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The greatest hookers of all time: Colin Deans

Colin Deans of Scotland Rugby World

Colin Deans won a Grand Slam with Scotland in 1984. He retired as his country's most capped player, and is remembered as one of the greatest hookers of all time


Major teams: Hawick
Country: Scotland
Test span: 1978-87
Scotland caps: 52 (52 starts)
Test points: 10 (2T)

Although Deans had much to celebrate in his career, he was denied the chance to add a hatful of British & Irish Lions caps to his memorabilia collection because the captain of the 1983 touring squad was his rival for the hooker’s jersey, Ireland’s Ciaran Fitzgerald.

Almost everyone, except tour manager Willie John McBride and Fitzgerald himself, thought Deans should have played the four Tests against the All Blacks, but he had to be content playing seven non-capping matches, while the Test side was whitewashed.

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Some redemption came when, three years later, he led the Lions in a one-off match against a Rest of the World XV in Cardiff to mark the International Rugby Board centenary.

Bill McLaren was among those who coached Deans when he was a Hawick schoolboy. Standing 5ft 10in tall, but light in stature by current standards, Deans was the first of a new breed of mobile hookers who played like an extra back-rower – although he was still famed for his brilliant lineout throwing and his swift striking at scrum time.

He won his first cap in February 1978, aged 22, and had to wait until his 11th Test to get a win, although Deans himself says he doesn’t count that victory over France in February 1980 because he came off injured.

Happier days followed as Deans helped Scotland draw 25-25 with New Zealand in November 1983 – the last time they have done anything but lose to the All Blacks – then claimed the Grand Slam in 1984.

By 1986 he was Scotland captain and the following year he led them to the World Cup, winning his final cap in the quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.

Now running his own company, Profoil, in England, Deans is a Northampton Saints fan and was on the coaching staff at the club from 1995-2001. He is still involved with Scottish rugby, mentoring young prospective internationals.

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