Sean Maitland and Simon Berghan, two of the heroes from Scotland’s sensational 38-38 draw with England, say they were desperate to put on an extra-special performance at Twickenham to honour the victims of Friday’s terror attack in their native New Zealand.
Maitland and Berghan both hail from Canterbury, the scene of last week’s appalling shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 50 innocent men, women and children dead and many more injured. The Kiwi pair qualify to play rugby for Scotland because of their Scottish grandparents.
A minute’s silence was held before all Saturday’s Six Nations fixtures in memory of those who lost their lives, and after the historic draw in London full-back Maitland was asked if he had ever considered standing down. “No, that was never in doubt,” he replied.
“It was tough but me and Bergy had a little word to each other and said ‘let’s go out and put a performance out there for our city’.
“There was a lot of emotion in the minute of silence. Christchurch has had its fair share of setbacks and this is one of the darkest days. I’m just lost for words.
“The whole of New Zealand and the Muslim community will stick together. My wife’s family are from Iran and emigrated to New Zealand after the revolution. They have Muslim ties although they are not active.
“It’s very close to home. Christchurch isn’t a big place so everyone will be affected, but it’s a resilient city, especially has been since the earthquake [in 2011, which killed 185 people and injured thousands].”
Maitland played his part when Scotland jumped up off the canvas at Twickenham and took the game to England with a second-half fightback that no one anticipated. He was heavily involved in the build-up to Darcy Graham’s first try, although he seemed as ignorant as everyone else when asked what had sparked Scotland’s revival.
“It was a classic game of two halves, wasn’t it?” added Maitland. “Not sure what Gregor [Townsend] said to us at half-time, kicked the boys up the arse. We had nothing to lose, we just backed ourselves and kept chipping away and soon we had the lead, just crazy scenes.”
Graham went on to score another try and certainly played himself into contention for the World Cup in Japan later this year. “That second half is how we want to play for the full 80 minutes,” said the Edinburgh wing. “We’ll take a huge crate of confidence from that.”