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The greatest blindsides of all time: John Jeffrey

John Jeffrey on the attack against France Rugby World

Here's why Scotland's John Jeffrey is considered one of the great blindside flankers

Sep 15, 2016 10:32 AM EDT

Major teams: Kelso
Country: Scotland
Test span: 1984-91
Scotland caps: 40 (40 starts)
Test points: 44 (11T)

Ceaselessly circling the breakdown, ruthlessly attacking on the counter or nibbling at opponents whenever he felt they needed winding up, there is more to Jeffrey’s nickname of ‘White Shark’ than just his shock-blond hair and pale skin.

A Borders man through and through – he’s so well respected down that way it’s hard to envisage the Kelso farmer ever having to put his hand in his pocket at the local pub – the blindside played more often like an auxiliary openside, relishing Scotland’s high-tempo, ruck-driven style of the Eighties and early Nineties. He was relentless, popping up when you least expected him like the Jaws of the silver screen.

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Jeffrey had a knack for scoring important tries and at the time of his retirement in 1991 he was not only Scotland’s most capped flanker but held the joint record with Derek White for most tries scored, with 11.

At the 1987 World Cup, despite playing only three Tests, he helped himself to four tries, including a hat-trick against Romania. In the 1991 World Cup he helped himself to a brace against Samoa.

He is perhaps better known for his hi-jinks with England No 8 Dean Richards as the pair, fresh from a 9-6 England win in the 1988 Calcutta Cup match, damaged the old trophy during a night on the tiles in Edinburgh. Jeffrey took the blame the next day, copping a five-month ban.

However, Jeffrey always bit back. In 1989 he was selected to tour with the Lions and bagged two tries against Australia A, but he couldn’t force his way into the team as the coaches adopted an English-type mauling game over the rucking style favoured by the Scots.

The next year he was at the fore as Scotland dominated the Five Nations, taking a Grand Slam after their immortal 13-7 victory over England in the last match of the competition.

Seeing Jeffrey that day, snarling, sprinting, battering, was to see him at his best.

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