Almost four years ago Adam Hastings was in the stands of Kingsholm in Gloucester and St James’ Park in Newcastle cheering on his country in a tournament which carries a family heritage he now looks to continue in Japan later this year.
“That’s the cool thing about rugby. I watched the last one as a fan, now have a chance of going to the next one as a player,” said the 22-year-old with the same zest and zeal which permeated the legendary careers of both his father Gavin and uncle Scott.
The old boys have a few World Cup stories to tell but a new Hastings chapter is in the pipeline as the Glasgow Warriors stand-off begins preparations with head coach Gregor Townsend’s extended training squad.
“Everyone would be telling lies if they said they weren’t thinking about selection,” said Hastings, who is inked in as Finn Russell’s back-up, pictured, with added versatility across the backline.
“Everybody will be thinking they will want to get on that plane to Japan. It’s just getting stuck into training just now and hopefully that will help get stuck into selection as well.”
“Getting stuck in” is hard-wired into the Hastings DNA as more seasoned watchers of rugby than young Adam know well.
It’s often forgotten how new a concept the Rugby World Cup is and the old man and uncle were there at the start in the inaugural hosting in the antipodes a mere 32 years ago, nine years ahead of Adam’s birth.
For Uncle Scott it wasn’t the greatest of World Cup memories as it lasted barely ten seconds. He had pulled a hamstring early on in training after the epic trip Down Under but was still put on in the pool match against Romania. “Every cap counts,” Scott has recalled of one that went on to become a one-time Scottish record of 65, four more than his big brother.
For Hastings senior the World Cup is embroidered into the story of his fabled career. That missed penalty against England in the semi-final at Murrayfield haunts him, and us, but let’s remember instead the cleaning out of a 17-stone All Black prop in the third-place play-off instead. “He bumps over Richard Loe, my word that takes some doing,” as the Welsh commentator famously described it at the old Cardiff Arms Park as Scotland lost 13-6 but delivered their best-ever finish at a World Cup.
The iconic 1995 staging in South Africa is best remembered for Nelson Mandela in a Springbok jersey but was also to be Gavin’s swansong in a dark blue one, with Uncle Scott scoring a try in the quarter-final loss to New Zealand in which Doddie Weir famously outscored Jonah Lomu two to one. Gavin could one-up that at the Christmas dinner table with the fact he was the record points scorer in that tournament, four tries against Ivory Coast pushing him to 104.
“Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be,” goes the old quote and for Adam, the future is now.
“As a young boy you want to play for your country. I’ve done that a few times now and playing in the World Cup has been a goal of mine these last couple of years. Fingers crossed I get the chance to go.”
Barring injury he is certain to, with a few other contenders with whom he has played at a junior World Cup, such as Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson, Darcy Graham, Zander Fagerson, Blair Kinghorn and Jamie Ritchie.
“From 16s to 20s you can say look at all these players that have kicked on and done so well,” said Hastings. “Rory Hutchinson has now joined with us which is funny as he was also part of that group. We were chatting about old times and how it is special and how we have all come this far and all have the chance to go to Japan.”
On newcomer Hutchinson, Hastings, who had a few games at Bath before joining Glasgow two years ago, said: “He is a good lad. We are all very fond of him. He was a good lad at 20s as well. He is a special player. He was really unlucky with injuries over the years. This season he picked up an injury at the start of the season but you just have to look at how he has come back since. It is good to see and I am happy for his deserved call-up.
“He is the most capped under-20. We were both talking about how far we had come as we both remember sitting on the bench for Northampton v Bath and neither of us got on. We were chatting about that up in Inverness and how funny it is. It can all change in a year for you and it has done for me and him. It can also change the other way and you can fall off so staying grounded is vital.”
Hastings may still be a youngster but has been blooded and knows how tough professional sport can be. Signed as Finn Russell’s heir apparent, there were initial purple patches after the star stand-off’s move to Racing 92, international recognition and a dream try on his home Scotland debut against Fiji at Murrayfield last November. A winter dip in form was cast off and the former George Watson’s College and Millfield man soon regained his mojo.
“We have only had three weeks off. It was good. I managed to get away on holiday and freshen up a bit but now it is coming thick and fast from here. It is still far away but we are looking towards it now.”
The World Cup story of the Hastings clan has a future in it yet, you sense.