Jedburgh family link sees Laidlaws down Wallabies

Scotland's Creig Laidlaw, top, celebrates with Chris Cusiter, right, and Ross Rennie after he kicked the winning points in the rugby test against Australia in Newcastle, Australia, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Scotland won the match 9-6. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Scotland's Creig Laidlaw, top, celebrates with Chris Cusiter, right, and Ross Rennie after he kicked the winning points in the rugby test against Australia in Newcastle, Australia, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Scotland won the match 9-6. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
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THE careers of Greig and Roy Laidlaw seem interwined, beyond the obvious family connection.

Both are diminutive but skilful players who developed their talent in their hometown of Jedburgh.

Scotland's Ross Rennie, left, watches the ball fly as teammate Creig Laidlaw kicked for goal during their international rugby test match against Australia in Newcastle, Australia, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Scotland won the match 9-6. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Scotland's Ross Rennie, left, watches the ball fly as teammate Creig Laidlaw kicked for goal during their international rugby test match against Australia in Newcastle, Australia, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Scotland won the match 9-6. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Both made their first Scotland starts at the age of 26.

And both have been involved in Scotland’s only two wins in Australia, albeit 30 years apart.

But there the similarities end.

While uncle Roy’s 12-7 victory in 1982 was played in scorching conditions in Brisbane, Greig’s injury-time penalty, which gave Andy Robinson’s side a 9-6 win, was amid driving rain more akin to the English city of Newcastle, rather than the Aussie one.

Speaking to TheSouthern following Tuesday’s historic triumph, Roy said: “It was a great result. The Aussies did not have the best preparation, but they have an abundance of quality players.

“I think the win was important in terms of the remainder of Scotland’s tour, a heavy defeat and we could have struggled against Fiji and Samoa.

“Greig has turned into a reliable goalkicker and that is such an important part of the game, particularly for Scotland as we do not score many tries.

“But we have also kept the Aussies from scoring a try, which is a great achievement.”

Jed-Forest scrum half Roy set up Melrose’s Keith Robertson for Scotland’s only try in 1982, while Selkirk’s John Rutherford also kicked vital points.

“I remember we won in Wales in the Five Nations earlier that year and it was Jim Renwick’s first win on his 47th cap, which shows how rarely Scotland won away from home, which is still the case,” he told us.

“Going into the tour, we were beginning to grow as a team and had been together on a tour of New Zealand the previous year.

“The Australians had some fantastic players in their backline at that time, and were able to get very close to the gain-line, which was a new phenomenon back then.

“We had also come off two defeats to New South Wales and Queensland, so the odds were not in our favour, but we did the business on the day.

“My abiding memory was coming out of the changing rooms and seeing thousands of people still there with empty beer cans lying on the ground. The weather was a lot better than it was during Tuesday’s game.”

Former Hawick and Peebles coach Gerry McGuinness made his Scotland debut in Brisbane, and concurred that conditions were a bit different.

“The temperatures were around 78 or 79 degrees which is not recommended for ginger-headed props such as myself,” McGuinness said.

“I remember Jim Telfer did not allow bottles of water to be brought onto the pitch as he thought it was a sign of weakness.

“It was a fantastic win, although we got absolutely hammered (33-9) in our next test.

“Twelve of the team had to start on a tour game on the Tuesday and then play the following Saturday, and we were just knackered.”

Discussing this week’s historic win, McGuinness said: “I still don’t think Greig Laidlaw is an international number 10, but he showed guts, determination and calmness to slot that penalty.

“It was not an easy kick in the conditions.

“You have either got the ability to do that or you don’t, and Greig obviously has.”

With Fiji and Samoa to tackle later this month, Roy will be hoping to see his nephew live in action, rather than Tuesday’s scramble just to find the result.

The electrician said: “I was working in Hawick and was trying to get the score, and even asked a woman if she had Sky Sports in her house so I could watch it.

“But it was not until Finlay Calder texted me that I discovered Scotland had won.”