BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Grand Slam legend Roy Laidlaw will be bursting with pride today as nephew Greig equals his caps total in a Scotland jersey.
And Roy hopes victory over England will give the family a double reason for celebration.
Greig will captain Scotland in this afternoon’s Calcutta Cup clash desperate for the team to build on an impressive World Cup campaign that ended in such heart-breaking circumstances in the gut-wrenching quarter-final defeat to Australia.
The mouthwatering encounter will see the 30-year-old scum-half draw level on appearances with his uncle, whose half-back partnership with the great John Rutherford helped lead the nation to their Grand Slam triumph in 1984.
And Roy is optimistic Vern Cotter’s side can emerge victorious, with Greig to the fore as skipper.
“It’s a great honour for the Laidlaw family that Greig’s going on to 47 caps and hopefully he’ll get many more,” said Roy before heading to Edinburgh to join legends from both sides of the border for last night’s Auld Enemy dinner at the Balmoral Hotel.
“Every cap you get to play for Scotland is a great honour. Of course, they play a lot more games now – it took me nine years to get to 47 caps, and I hardly missed a game!
“Greig knows that every cap he gets is special and he has turned into a very good captain. He’s always had a very good rugby brain on him and he’s a good communicator with the squad. You can see that they respect him.
“Very few players have the full package and he’s not got the full package either, but he’s got so many good qualities you could hardly leave him out of the team.
“He’s very level headed but at the same time he doesn’t like getting beat, he hates it.”
That passion for his country was clearly evident in the interview Greig was forced to carry out live on TV in the immediate aftermath of the controversial last-gasp quarter-final loss to the Wallabies at Twickenham back in October.
Today’s Calcutta Cup showdown is sure not to lack emotion either, but Roy is hopeful the burning sense of injustice – combined with some calm decision-making from the captain – can drive the Scots on to victory at BT Murrayfield.
“I hope they do use the World Cup to spur them on in the Six Nations,” added the 62-year-old. “I hope they’re bloody angry and they want to show everybody they can win big games.
“We did bring a wee bit on ourselves in the Australia game. The line-out throw wasn’t the cleverest. You need to be thinking in a crisis and that’s one thing Greig’s pretty good at.
“He’s usually ahead of the game when it comes to making decisions.
“Looking at the Scotland team, it kind of looks like we know who they are. We’ve got a front row and second row and back row that looks quite settled.
“Our backs are a wee bit lightweight but we’re capable of playing some decent rugby.”
Some Scots fear England could revert to stereotype and turn the match into an ‘arm-wrestle’, a scenario that would not suit the lighter-weight home nation.
But Roy added: “I think it’ll be a tight game and every point will be a prisoner, I would think.
“But I think Eddie Jones will want England to play. There has to be some entertainment as well. Yes, winning’s important but you’ve got to play some decent rugby to entertain the crowd.”