Major teams: Heriot’s, HarlequinsCountry: ScotlandTest span: 1979-90Scotland caps: 44 (44 starts)Test points: 0
In 2011, at a gala dinner in Paris, a formidable foe from bygone years was inducted into the French Hall of Fame. Iain Milne, the famous Bear of Scotland, was that man.
To give you some idea of how significant this is, Milne’s Test career overlapped with some of France’s most vicious scrummaging beasts: Paparemborde, Dubroca, Garuet and Vaquerin all saw Milne in action. They held him in very high regard…. and they certainly punched him enough times to show that.
Milne received his nickname because he was a huge, immovable man, but he wasn’t always that size. At school he was much smaller but time spent working on the docks once his education was over saw the Heriot’s product develop incredible strength and bulk.
A star of Scotland’s all-conquering 1984 Grand Slam side, he was singled out for special praise by the great Jim Telfer that season while his hooker Colin Deans later remarked: “He gave you the sure-fire feeling that the right-hand side of the scrum was going nowhere.”
One of three brothers who all played for Scotland – David had a single cap at loosehead while Kenny was a hooker for Scotland and the Lions, and the three played one match together for the Barbarians – he also had undervalued ball skills.
Milne went on the 1983 Lions tour of New Zealand but, despite being in superb form, wasn’t selected ahead of the great Graham Price. It was a pain he took with him into the 1984 Five Nations.
His power would not always go unrecognised. At that same dinner in 2011, former All Black Steve McDowell – the loosehead who faced Milne in the 1987 World Cup quarter-finals and the opponent the Bear rated the highest – admitted that at the time, the Kiwis felt Scotland were the best scrummagers on the planet.
As Milne was their anchor and key force, that is high praise indeed.
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