'91 loss still haunts Hastings

Gavin Hastings missing 'that penalty' in the 1991 RWC (File)
Gavin Hastings missing 'that penalty' in the 1991 RWC (File)

Dunedin - England and Scotland will do something never done before in the 140-year history of rugby's oldest international fixture when they play a Rugby World Cup match at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.

It will be the first time the two sides have faced each other in a full Test outside of England or Scotland.

But this weekend's clash, a quarter-final playoff in all but name, won't be their first World Cup meeting.

In 1991, England travelled to Murrayfield, Scotland's Edinburgh headquarters, for a semi-final at a venue where the year before they'd lost a 'grand slam' decider in what was then the Five Nations Championship.

With the match tied at 6-6 in the final quarter, Scotland were awarded a penalty in front of England's posts.

Yet full-back Gavin Hastings, one of the most reliable goalkickers of his generation, somehow sliced the ball wide and England fly-half Rob Andrew struck a late drop-goal to give the visitors a 9-6 win.

Hastings was so overcome afterwards he broke down and could not complete his post-match television interview.

At least Scotland had the 'consolation' of seeing England, playing in front of their home crowd at Twickenham, lose 12-6 in the final to Australia.

Scotland finished fourth, their best placing in a World Cup - a tournament where they've always reached the quarter-finals at the very least.

But Scotland great Hastings, currently in New Zealand - where he captained the 1993 British and Irish Lions - as a broadcaster, was left contemplating what might have been.

"The dressing room afterwards was a sombre place. No words were exchanged," the 49-year-old former Scotland captain said in an interview with Thursday's UK Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"Those memories are still vivid, perhaps no longer daily but weekly or bi-monthly...That will never go away as far as I'm concerned."

England, as befits a country with a far greater general and rugby-playing population, have 68 wins to Scotland's 42 in 128 matches, including 18 draws.

Scotland though have often surprised their neighbours and when Murrayfield opened in 1925, they beat England 14-11 in front of 70,000 spectators to secure the first of their three 'grand slams'.

But Scotland's 28-year losing streak at Twickenham continued in February with a 22-16 defeat.

However, there was enough in that loss to give them hope ahead of this weekend's clash, although they will have to win by a distance to deny England a place in the knockout phase.

Winning and not going through would echo Scotland's elimination by goal difference at three successive football World Cups, notably in Argentina in 1978 where they beat eventual finalists the Netherlands 3-2 in their last group match yet still went out.

But a rugby victory by the required margin on Saturday would be especially sweet given Scotland are now coached by former England flanker and coach Andy Robinson.

Teams:

England:
15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 James Haskell, 7 Lewis Moody (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Matt Stevens

Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Nick Easter, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Matt Banahan

Scotland:
15 Chris Paterson, 14 Max Evans, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Sean Lamont, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 John Barclay, 6 Ally Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock (captain), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen

Substitutes: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Nick de Luca

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