BBC Sport
 You are in: Rugby Union: International  
Sport Front Page
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Scotland's deadly duo
Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer on the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa
The brains behind Scotland's success in 1990

In the second part of BBC Sport Online's interview with John Jeffrey, the former Scotland flanker reflects on the Ian McGeechan - Jim Telfer partnership and talks about his hopes for the future of Scottish rugby.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were indisputably golden years for Scottish rugby.

The country won grand slams in 1984 and 1990, while Scots Finlay Calder and Gavin Hastings captained the Lions tours to Australia in 1989 and New Zealand in 1993.

But if Scotland were proving their worth on the pitch, then John Jeffrey believes it was because of all the work that Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer put in off it.

The pair knew that Scotland did not have the strength in depth that England and France could boast, but what they lacked in numbers, they made up for with tactical nous.

I for one owe the pair a huge amount of gratitude
John Jeffrey
"I rate all our success at the time down to them," Jeffery said. "They gelled us superbly and were a great blend.

"McGeechan was a great tactical thinker and a nice guy, whereas Telfer was a complete sadist.

"I always vowed that if I ever came back in another life I'd return as a back and play for McGeechan, because you never heard him swear and he didn't tear strips off you.

"Whereas Telfer, if you made the slightest mistake you would be harangued, castigated in front of your friends till you just felt the size of a mouse.

"McGeechan used the carrot approach and Telfer used the stick."

For a 6' 4" farmer from the windswept borderlands of southern Scotland to admit fear is something, but he stresses that behind Telfer's tough exterior lay a shrewd mind.

"Telfer was a great believer in New Zealand rugby and the style they played - which was based around rucking," Jeffrey said.

Scotland coach Jim Telfer with falcon and spaniel
Telfer: Used unconventional methods in training
"So we played a fast and mobile game that involved dynamic rucking, and if we couldn't pass it along the backline then we'd put up-and-unders up and ruck it.

"It wasn't pretty, but it was extremely effective, and I for one owe the pair a huge amount of gratitude."

Pretty is not a word you would use to describe Scotland's performances in recent years.

Only their epic win against England in 2000 at a drenched Murrayfield stands out.

The national team's plight is never far from Jeffrey's thoughts, and it pains him too see former mentor McGeechan fighting a losing battle.

While acknowledging that a country of Scotland's size cannot expect to be a world force every year, he argues that recruiting players from outside the country is counter-productive.

"We're too small a nation in Scotland to be fighting among ourselves, and at the moment we are," he said.

You couldn't marry the fun I had as a player and the money they get nowadays
John Jeffrey
"I don't think the hierarchy and the coaching system are helping themselves by bringing in these foreign sporrans, or kilted Kiwis, call them what you will.

"We're trying to solve the problem from the top downwards instead of from the bottom up.

"Nowadays the supporters never meet the players who are cocooned away from everybody.

"Most of them are not home-bred, and when they lose it doesn't seem to hurt them very much, which is totally against the Scottish psyche.

"And until we get these issues addressed, you won't get the supporters back or the young kids playing rugby.

"Equally, there is no doubt that Ian (McGeechan) can still be a great coach, and unless you've got someone better then don't criticise him - he is not to blame."

New Zealander cum Scot Brendan Laney
Laney: Jeffrey thinks his arrival was a mistake
Jeffrey looks back on his years under McGeechan and Telfer as some of the best in his life, but says he would like to be remembered as a good farmer, rather than a great player.

One of his defining moments came last year, when his 1,800 acre farm was besieged by the foot and mouth crisis - he was close to having 450 of his cows slaughtered by the army.

"It was an absolutely hellish time, you could see the funeral pyres from my house," he said.

"But everybody always asks me if I would have liked to be a professional, but you couldn't marry the fun I had as a player and the money they get nowadays.

"I just loved playing rugby, it was a great way of getting rid of my aggression, and you could do it legally without hitting people."

Hitting maybe, but in a career spanning 40 caps and two decades, the White Shark left enough bites in the opposition to ensure that he will not just be remembered for his farming.

Jeffrey's praise for duo
"Our success in the 80s and 90s was down to them"
On current Scottish set-up
"There are too many kilted Kiwis"

Rugby heroes
Links to more International stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more International stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales