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The greatest full-backs of all time: Gavin Hastings

Gavin Hastings takes a high ball during a Test against Wales Rugby World

Gavin Hastings was the stand out player for Scotland at full-back in the 1980s/90s

Sep 13, 2016 11:45 AM EDT

Major Teams: Watsonians, London Scottish, Cambridge University
Country: Scotland
Test span: 1986-95
Scotland caps: 61 (61 starts)
Lions caps: 6 (6 starts)
Test points: 733 (18T, 87C, 160P)

He was Scotland’s granite-hard talisman for a decade, not only as the last line of defence but as a place kicker of unerring accuracy who often proved the difference between sides.

Earmarked for success from nearly age, the Edinburgh-born Hastings attended George Watson’s College before gaining his Cambridge Blue. First picked by Scotland in 1986, he was to lead his country on 20 occasions. With brother Scott playing alongside him, ‘Big Gav’ loved to hit the line at speed, using his 6ft 2in, 15st frame to bust defences.

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His power and ability to read the game brought him 17 Scotland tries and he notched 667 points in his Scotland career – at one point holding both his country’s points record (227). He appeared in three World Cups, his biggest regret coming in the 1991 semi-final against England. With the scores tied, he missed an easy kick that would have put Scotland 9-6 ahead late on. On the flip side, his 21 points as Scotland handed the Auld Enemy their biggest loss in the 1986 fixture (33-6) is among his fondest memories.

Hastings was a mainstay of the 1989 Loins tour to Australia, and he went on to captain them in New Zealand in 1993, beating his old adversary Will Carling to the role. It led Sir Ian McGeechan to remark that “in New Zealand, they considered him the best full-back in the world”.

Retiring after the 1995 World Cup, he had a spell in American Football with the Scottish Claymores before setting up a sports marketing agency. Director of a leadership consultancy and a popular after-dinner speaker, he spends a lot of time raising awareness of Parkinson’s, a disease that afflicts his wife Dianne.

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