Rugby: Allan Jacobsen backed to win call to Lions

As Allan Jacobsen savours becoming Scotland’s most capped rugby prop forward, another celebrated denizen of the front row today insisted there were fresh fields for the 33-year-old still to conquer – starting with Sunday’s RBS Six Nations clash against France at Murrayfield.

Jacobsen overtook Tom Smith on his 62nd international appearance last time out and today SRU president Ian McLauchlan, another ex-Lions loose head, tipped Jacobsen to be called up for next year’s Lions tour of Australia. Said McLauchlan, capped 43 times for Scotland: “The Lions missed Allan on their last tour when he was injured. He could have sorted out a lot of their problems (in South Africa).

“I believe there is another three years of top rugby left in Allan, who will go to the next World Cup.

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“That means a Lions tour is a possibility for someone who gives everything in every game.

“I have never seen Allan take a rest at any stage of any game; he is working all the time.”

Such an assessment was typical of a particularly upbeat McLauchlan as he approaches his final home match as SRU President having undertaken a second term.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment, especially having the chance to observe close up how much effort is being put in although my dressing-room visits will always be after the game since beforehand is for the players to prepare themselves for matches.

“I’m very pleased with the way things are going; everything is positive. Looking forward there is lots to develop and at the centre of eveything is the game of rugby.”

That was a reference to political turmoil which has at times engulfed the governing body during the professional era. But while eyebrows might be raised with Scotland having just slipped to 11th in world rankings, McLauchlan expresses scepticism at the value of such ratings and insists: “Things can turn around very quickly. One win and the team are on their way again.

“Some time soon this Scotland team are going to open an opponent up because they are making chances and it isn’t as if they are being hammered.

“The message is: ‘keep the head’, especially with the likes of Stuart Hogg, Ruaridh Jackson and Duncan Weir coming through although I admit I don’t know whether we will see the best, or worst, of France this weekend.

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“On their day, nobody will beat France but the opposite applies too.

“I say this very reservedly but the way things unfolded for them at the last World Cup when the players didn’t get on with the coach – any other team than them would have quickly been out. France being France they reached the final after a defeat by Tonga and very nearly won partly because their players have an ability to organise themselves.”

As he waits to see which French team will turn up at Murrayfield, McLauchlan insists the hosts have been boosted by news of a sell-out in this fixture for the first time since 1994. “The sell-out signifies the public are keeping faith with a team who should have beaten England and could have won in Wales. It’s a good sign.”

In the wake of Scotland’s 3-49 defeat by New Zealand at the beginning of his presidential term, McLauchlan successfully predicted in the Evening News that the team would immediately bounce back and beat world champions South Africa the following week. They duly delivered. Now he is showing similar bullishness in declaring: “I’m confident this Scotland team can win their three remaining matches in this Six Nations – at home to France and away to Ireland and Italy.”