First-class delivery from Laidlaw and Littlejohn
Two Scotland players who played leading roles in stellar Grand Slam successes are celebrated today in a new set of stamps issued by the Royal Mail.
Scrum-half Roy Laidlaw, whose two first-half tries against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in Dublin in 1984 were instrumental in Scotland winning their first Triple Crown since 1938, features on (what else!) the first-class stamp.
And centre Kim Littlejohn, who captained Scotland Women and scored the decisive try as they defeated England at Inverleith 8-5 to secure their first Grand Slam in 1998, stars on the £1.70 stamp
The eight stamps in the set mark the 150th anniversary of the first international rugby match, staged between Scotland and England at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh in 1871.
Laidlaw scored both his tries that day as Scotland built up a commanding interval lead of 22-0, both stunning individual finishes, one off lineout, the other off scrum.
In a variation on a famous war poem, they were described as happening on part of a “foreign field that is forever Laidlaw’s corner.”
Laidlaw recounted: “I remember Ireland won the toss and decided to play against the wind in the first-half. I scored early off a lineout, then we got a penalty try at a scrum and then I got over in the corner off a scrum.
“I think I’d scored in the same corner a few years before playing for Scotland B.”
Due to injury, Laidlaw didn’t return for the second-half. “But we played some great rugby then.Keith Robertson scored a try and Peter Dods scored in the corner from a typically unselfish pass from Roger Baird.”
Laidlaw, who had captained Scotland and also toured New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions in 1983, was in hospital as the celebrations at Scotland’s 32-9 win continued into the night.
He recovered to take his place against France at home a fortnight later when Scotland won their first Grand Slam in 59 years.
He added: “That was just such an achievement. I mean, it was our first since 1925. But while some of the boys were still partying, I was back at work the following Monday rewiring the public toilets in Jedburgh!
“I owed so much to my granny, Peggy Walker. She had introduced me to rugby when I was a kid. She saw the 1925 Grand Slam in person; the 1984 Grand Slam in person and she watched the 1990 Grand Slam on the telly. She lived to the grand old age of 96.
“So, being on the stamp? Well, I’ll just say thanks to my granny Peggy, because it all wouldn’t have happened without her enthusiasm. She was rugby daft.”
Kim Littlejohn remembers the excitement at Christmas as a child when the designs for new stamps would be unveiled.
“It never crossed my mind that I would end up on a stamp,” she said, “but if it was going to be from anything it would be from rugby because that was my passion.
“And being on the stamp is about representing everybody else who was part of that team on and off the field, the players, the coaches and everyone else involved.”
Routinely Kim doesn’t recall much from specific matches during her Test career.But she vividly remembers parts of that 1998 match in Edinburgh.
“I remember lining up for the anthems and facing the stand.It was huge, the fact it was England in that final game.It was kind of a story book setting.It still gives me goosebumps,” she said.
And for the stamp to appear just days after Scotland Women kept their Rugby World Cup qualification hopes alive was not lost on Littlejohn.
“The win against Ireland was a great advert for women’s rugby.I messaged Bryan (Easson, the Scotland Women’s head coach) to say how brilliant it was, and I really hope they will take momentum from that,” she added.
The full set of stamps features: JPR Williams; Emily Scarratt; Danielle Waterman; Sophie Spence; Roy Laidlaw; Kim Littlejohn; Simon Geoghegan; Melissa Berry; and Jonny Wilkinson.
David Gold, Royal Mail’s Director of External Affairs & Policy, said: "The sport of rugby continues to evolve today and is becoming an ever more inclusive sport – with almost three million women players across the world - increased diversity and inclusivity has seen the culture of the game change, both on and off the field. These stamps are a fitting way to mark Rugby Union's long and extraordinary history."
Royal Mail worked closely with Scottish Rugby and our counterparts in England, Ireland and Wales, on selecting the images on the stamps.
The full set of eight stamps, available in a presentation ack, sells at £12.40. The stamps and a range of collectible products are available to pre-order from today (5 October) at www.royalmail.com/rugbyunion and go on general sale from 19 October.
Women’s Rugby World Cup Final, 2014
After defeat in three successive finals, England win the World Cup. Tries from Emily Scarratt (pictured, with ball) and Danielle Waterman secure victory.
Five Nations Championship, 1970
A victory marking the start of a glorious era in Welsh rugby for a side featuring greats like JPR Williams (pictured), Gareth Edwards and Mervyn Davies.
Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2015
Needing to win to secure the title, a rampant Ireland – with lock Sophie Spence (pictured) to the fore – ran in 11 tries to become champions.
Five Nations Championship, 1984
Scrum-half Roy Laidlaw (pictured, with ball) scored two tries as Scotland became outright winners of the Five Nations Championship for the first time since 1938.
Women’s Home Nations Championship, 1998
Led by Kim Littlejohn (pictured, far left), Scotland complete a five-year journey from novices to best team in Europe with a win that boosted the sport’s status in the country.
Five Nations Championship, 1994
Ireland upset the odds to win at Twickenham for the first time in 12 years – a brilliant try by Simon Geoghegan (pictured) inspiring a generation of outstanding players.
Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2009
Non Evans kicks the winning penalty in the final minute as Wales, captained by Melissa Berry (pictured), beat England for the first time and win the Triple Crown.
Rugby World Cup Final, 2003Jason Robinson’s try and five successful kicks from Jonny Wilkinson (pictured) see England become the first northern hemisphere country to win the World Cup