Finlay Calder

If any single moment symbolized the Scottish team spirit and gritty determination in 1990’s Grand Slam decider it was surely the sight of Fin Calder, early on in the match, collecting a loose ball and driving hard into the English forwards.

Calder was a late-comer to international rugby; his twin brother Jim’s international career was already over when Finlay broke into the international team in 1986, alongside David Sole and the Hastings brothers. Calder, alongside Derek White and John Jeffrey, formed a back-row partnership which is possibly the best Scotland have ever produced. Calder was a devastating attacking flanker and a ruthless tackler – he was a full-backs’ worst nightmare, charging after a high, hoisted Garry Owen and arriving simultaneous with the ball.

Despite his late start Calder went on to win 34 caps between 1986 and his retiral after the 1991 World Cup, and this after taking an early season sabbatical following the 1989 British Lions tour of Australia. Calder was the first Scottish player to captain the Lions since Michael Campbell-Lamerton in 1966 and the first winning captain since Willie John McBride in 1974.

After this triumph, the 1990 Grand Slam and the tour of New Zealand which followed, Calder was understandably exhausted and announced his retirement, but was finally coaxed back for the 1991 World Cup. That Calder felt he owed this debt of gratitude to coach Ian McGeechan indicates the qualities that made him such a terrific player; uncompromising commitment and loyalty, on and off the pitch.