British Lions captain, Scotland captain, Grand Slam winner – Gavin Hastings was the best full-back of his generation.
Hastings made his debut against France in 1986, together with younger brother Scott and David Sole, and went on to win 61 caps for his country, another record for a player who picked up records almost as regularly as he kicked goals. Hastings is Scotland’s leading points scorer, and also set a record for most points scored in a Test series when he led the British Lions to Australia in 1993. These achievements speak for themselves.
Brave, resolute, adventurous, Hastings had all the qualities of a world-class full-back; he was secure under the high ball; an excellent touch kicker; always willing to turn defence to attack; devastating on the crash ball; and could tackle like the clap of doom.
From 1986, until his retirement from the international game in 1995, Hastings played a pivotal role in all of Scotland’s memorable matches of that era. He scored a incredible eight of eight kicks - from all over the field - in the record-breaking 33-6 destruction of England in 1986; played a crucial role in Tony Stanger’s match-winning try in the 1990 Grand Slam decider; in 1995 scored the try and conversion that gave Scotland their first victory in Paris since 1969; performed heroics in three World Cups; scored 17 career tries, astonishing for a full-back; and generally decimated any national record that dared to cross his path.
As much as anyone who has worn the blue jersey, Gavin Hastings would have a fair claim to be Scotland’s greatest player.