Some of the greatest names in the history of Scottish rugby have been occupants of the No 9 jersey – Roy Laidlaw, Gary Armstrong, Bryan Redpath, Andy Nicol to name just a few.
You could add in Greig Laidlaw, pictured inset, who was watching the 61-0 thrashing of Russia in Shizuoka from the stands resting up for the Pool A finale against Japan alongside Mike Blair, Scotland’s most capped scrum-half and now assistant backs coach. But George Horne can proudly say he is the first in that position to score a hat-trick of tries and only the seventh scrum-half to achieve such a feat in Test rugby history.
“It was pretty cool. Very special. I love scoring tries, I love winning games,” said the 24-year-old Glasgow player.
“To get a hat-trick was fantastic. There have been a lot of great scrum-halves over the years for Scotland and if that [record] is true it will be really special.
“It was good to impact the team positively. I could have had a fourth and I was pretty gutted when that was disallowed but the game was in the bag by then.”
A forward pass by flanker Magnus Bradbury led to that fourth disallowed try, by which time Horne had been shunted out to the wing as Henry Pyrgos entered the fray.
“This sets us up against Japan,” said Horne, who will likely be backing up Laidlaw off the bench in the decisive Pool A finale.
“The biggest positive was another shut-out. That was massive. We base our game on defence. If we can do that against Japan there is no reason why we can’t beat them by the four points we need.”
Horne was keen to praise his half-back partner Adam Hastings, who also enjoyed a dream evening with a 26-point total comprising the opening two Scotland tries of an eventual nine and 16 off the boot.
“He was fantastic. His kicking game was outstanding,” said Horne of Hastings. “His running game on the ball was so dangerous. I’m delighted for him.”
For Hastings it was a near perfect first World Cup start, with only one missed conversion a minor fault, as his legendary father Gavin and mum Diane watched on proudly from the stands.
“It was great to have my parents here, my aunt and uncle too. So it just makes the whole experience one to remember,” said the Glasgow stand-off, who turned 23 at the weekend.
“It was really pleasing, I wasn’t aware of it being our second biggest win in a World Cup. I probably should have had a few more points too if I am honest.”
Hastings, whose dad still holds the Scottish record for most individual points in a World Cup game with his 44 against Ivory Coast in 1995, added: “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. There are still things we can do so much better.
“But I was so happy with how it worked out. We spoke about being patient against the Russians. We knew we needed a bonus point in an ideal world but we couldn’t push it too early.
“We needed a performance. We kicked to the corners really well and I thought George and [centre] Pete [Horne] kicked well too.
“There was a lot of pressure on us tonight, but then there’s always pressure in every game you play for Scotland, especially in a World Cup. It needed a quality team performance and that’s what we delivered.”
Clearly Hastings was in the No 10 jersey to keep star playmaker Finn Russell fresh for the titanic clash with Japan on Sunday, but the youngster is likely to have a role on the bench.
“We have done some homework already, we know that this win sets up Sunday to be a huge occasion,” said Hastings.
“We’ll rest up and then hopefully deliver our ‘A’ game. It’s going to be a tough environment to play in. You want to be under pressure when you play and we will be on Sunday.
“They will have so much support but that won’t daunt us.”