Hastings heads to Abbotsford for book festival

Legendary Scotland and British Lions fullback Gavin Hastings heads to Abbotsford next month to chat to Borders Book Festival-goers about what it meant to him to pull on that famous red shirt.

Gavin Hastings heads to Abbotsford on November 6.
Gavin Hastings heads to Abbotsford on November 6.

Hastings, who will be talking about his new book, the Legacy of the Lions, told the Southern this week that it still is the pinnacle of a player’s career to represent the British and Irish Lions, even after the advent of professionalism.

He said: “The Lions still holds a very special place in players’ hearts. As long as the players want to play in the Lions tours that will be the case … until teams start paying players a lot of money not to go on tour, and the players accept that, then that will continue to be the case.”

However, he said that perhaps not every player has a Lions’ heart, and that is shown when they have an unsuccessful tour.

He said: “Ultimately, that’s why I was keen to do the book. What’s the difference between a side that manages to win a test series 2-1 and one that is on the wrong side of a 2-1 defeat?

"With the exception of 2005, since 1989, the Lions have always managed to win at least one test match in a three-test series, but how can they get over that hurdle? It’s a combination of everything. but if you look back at the three successful tours, 89, 97 and 2013, and they were the ones with a special group of players who just gave everything to the cause and they’ve played some great rugby in the process.”

Hastings captained the side in the 1993 tour to New Zealand, but was angered after the tour finished when he found out about horse-trading for selection.

He said: “After found that out, I was pretty upset to be honest.

"The Lions should never be about horse trading, it should be about the best players in England, Scotland Wales and Ireland being selected for the challenge of going to play the best in the world.

"It was put into perspective that our task in 1993 was made more difficult, as some players should never have been there.”

It’s not Hastings’ first visit to the festival.

He said: "I actually did a wee thing there with P.C. Brown a few years back and it was a lovely atmosphere, a very well-run event. I was pretty surprised so many people came to see us, but I really enjoyed it.”

Tickets for Hastings’ talk on Saturday, November 6 can be purchased at bordersbookfestival.org/