More than 30,000 Scots invaded the Eternal City at the weekend as Scotland took on Italy in the final fixture of this year’s Six Nations tournament.
And in that number was a huge contingent of Borderers providing support both on and off the pitch at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
While Jedburgh rugby legend Greig Laidlaw kicked the team safely to victory, it was fitting too that it was the Jedburgh Pipe Band who welcomed that team onto the pitch 80 minutes earlier to lead the Scots supporters in the national anthem.
A total of 18 band members enjoyed a four-day visit to Rome, joining in with the City of Rome and Heart of Italy pipe bands for functions around the city and for Saturday’s all-important Flower of Scotland performance.
Pipe Major Tosh MacDonald said: “The band was honoured to return to Rome for the second time and represent the town and the Borders at the Six Nations.
“The atmosphere on the pitch was outstanding, and it was a real experience for all the band members.
“We joined pipers and drummers from across Italy to form the massed bands and were made extremely welcome by our hosts and organisers, the City of Rome Pipe Band.
“Another highlight was playing for Doddie Weir and John Jeffries in the Piazza Navona the day before the game to show our support for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and its Doddie Gump campaign.
“It was great to see so many Borderers far from home uniting for a good cause.
“A video by Borders journalist Jill Douglas, who was also there, shared our performance with thousands of her twitter followers, while the Doddie Gump Facebook page’s live video was shared 150 times and viewed 12,000 times, so it was brilliant that most of Jedburgh got to see it from afar too.”
The band provided their impromptu performance for the rugby legend, in town for the finale of the Doddie Gump campaign, which saw thousands of headband-sporting Scottish supporters march through the city to the match in aid of the My Name’5 Doddie foundation.
The former Scotland internationalist, of Blainslie, is suffering from motor neurone disease and launched his fundraising foundation last June.
Rugby fans in Rome were asked to wear a headband, Doddie’s trademark on the pitch, and walk the two-and-a-half-mile route together from the Piazza de Popalo to the Stadio Olympico.
A Doddie Gump spokesman said: “The band were brilliant in the Piazza de Navona.
“The live stream caused a frenzy, and the performance also proved a very good focal point for distributing headbands.
“A hearty thank you from all at the Doddie Gump team.”