Borders rugby legend Roy Laidlaw about to take a licking, unlike in his playing days, as new stamp celebrates Scotland’s 1984 grand slam

Borders rugby legend Roy Laidlaw didn’t get a licking all that often during his playing days with Scotland, but that’s about to change.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 1:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 2:45 pm
The new first-class stamp featuring Borders rugby legend Roy Laidlaw (Image: Royal Mail)

As a tribute to the way he stamped his mark on the game in the 1980s, the former Jed-Forest scrum-half is one of the home nations’ stars of yesteryear featured on a new set of postage stamps coming out this month.

The eight stamps are being issued by Royal Mail to celebrate the 150th anniversaries of the formation of the Rugby Football Union and the first international match between England and Scotland in Edinburgh in 1871.

Laidlaw, of Jedburgh, is one of two Scots depicted, the other being Kim Littlejohn. The rugby legends from elsewhere featured are JPR Williams, Emily Scarratt, Danielle Waterman, Sophie Spence, Simon Geoghegan, Melissa Berry and Jonny Wilkinson.

Roy Laidlaw nowadays (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Laidlaw’s two first-half tries against Ireland in Dublin in 1984 helped Scotland win their first triple crown for almost half a century and the 67-year-old is pictured playing in that 32-9 victory on the set’s first-class stamp.

Laidlaw’s tries were scored as the Scots built up a half-time lead of 22-0, one off a lineout and the other from a scrum.

Scotland’s other try-scorers in that Five Nations match were fellow Borderers Keith Robertson and Peter Dods, with the latter adding three conversions and two penalties.

Laidlaw recalled: “I remember Ireland won the toss and decided to play against the wind in the first half.

“I scored early off a lineout, then we got a penalty try at a scrum and then I got over in the corner off a scrum.

“I think I’d scored in the same corner a few years before playing for Scotland B.”

Laidlaw wasn’t able to come back out for the second half as he was injured but he is full of praise for the effort put in by team-mates including Hawick’s Robertson, Gala’s Dods and Kelso’s Roger Baird in his absence.

“We played some great rugby then,” said Laidlaw, capped for Scotland 47 times between 1980 and 1988.

“Keith Robertson scored a try and Peter Dods scored in the corner from a typically unselfish pass from Roger Baird.”

Laidlaw, in the squad for the 1983 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, playing in all four tests and nine other games, was in hospital as the Scots and their fans’ celebrations continued into the night, but he recovered in time to play against France at home a fortnight later as Scotland won their first grand slam in 59 years with a 21-12 victory, thanks to a Finlay Calder try and five penalties and one conversion from Dods.

He added: “That was just such an achievement – I mean, it was our first since 1925 – but while some of the boys were still partying, I was back at work the following Monday rewiring the public toilets in Jedburgh.

“I owed so much to my granny, Peggy Walker. She had introduced me to rugby when I was a kid. She saw the 1925 grand slam in person, the 1984 grand slam in person and she watched the 1990 grand slam on the telly. She lived to the grand old age of 96.

“Being on the stamp? Well, I’ll just say thanks to my granny Peggy because it all wouldn’t have happened without her enthusiasm. She was rugby-daft.”

David Gold, Royal Mail’s director of external affairs and policy, said: “The sport of rugby continues to evolve today and is becoming an ever more inclusive sport, with almost three million women players across the world. Increased diversity and inclusivity has seen the culture of the game change, both on and off the field.

“These stamps are a fitting way to mark rugby union's long and extraordinary history."The full set of eight stamps, available in a presentation sack, costs £12.40. They’re available to pre-order at www.royalmail.com/rugbyunion and go on general sale on Tuesday, October 19.