AS THE Scot most readily associated with the 13-man code, Alan Tait will be at Murrayfield over the next couple of days as rugby league descends on the Scottish capital for its 'Magic Weekend'.
He will be taking part in a legends' tag tournament and will possibly reflect on the irony of the SRU laying out the red carpet. Not too long ago, the idea of league being played at Murrayfield would have had the SRU blazers choking on their G&Ts.
Tait was born in Kelso but grew up in the traditional league country of west Cumbria – his father Alan SNR himself left the Borders to pursue a career in league. The young Tait returned to play union for Kelso and was part of the famous Black & Whites side that won the league in 1987/88 and played eight times at centre for Scotland. He opted to turn pro in 1988 and moved to Widnes, where he teamed up with fellow union converts Jonathan Davies and Martin Offiah. The Cheshire side stormed to the Premiership title in his first season and Tait made history by winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match back-to-back in the Premiership finals of 1989 and 1990. Tait moved to Leeds in 1992 and was runner-up in the Challenge Cup finals of 1994 and '95. He won 16 caps for Great Britain, scoring eight tries.
In 1996 Tait signed a two-year Leeds contract as Super League was launched but fell out of favour after a change of coach. With union now open he had been considering a return and his last game in the 13-man code came at Firhill in August 1996, scoring a try for the Scotland team, who had just gained international status, in a 26-6 win over Ireland. Three months later Tait returned to union with Newcastle Falcons. He became the first former league man to be capped by Scotland in the 1997 Five Nations, stealing the show in the win over Ireland at Murrayfield.
Tait went on to join an elite band that represented both Great Britain at league and the British and Irish Lions in union. He joined Edinburgh Reivers in 1998 before retiring aged 34 after Scotland's loss to New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the 1999 World Cup.
A career in coaching followed, graduating to Scotland defence coach, before he was released last year. He is now assistant coach at Newcastle.