/ Match Pack

Scotland 24-15 Australia, Murrayfield
Misfiring Wallabies put to the sword by Scotland
Richard Seeckts
December 19, 1981
Report Match details
Date/Time: Dec 19, 1981
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Scotland 24 - 15 Australia
Attendance: 39213  Half-time: 12 - 15
Tries: Renwick
Cons: Irvine
Pens: Irvine 5
Drops: Rutherford
Tries: Moon, Poidevin, Slack
Pens: PE McLean
The Scotland rugby team, Twickenham, February 3, 1981
The 1981 Scotland vintage
© Getty Images
Related Links

Scotland recorded their sixth win in eight matches against Australia since 1927. Their 24 points remains the record Scottish score in the series and they have won only three of 19 Wallaby encounters since 1981.

This occasion was one of many high points in the career of Andy Irvine who, along with Jim Renwick and David Leslie, had been involved in Scotland's 10-3 victory over Australia in 1975. Four Australians survived from that match, captain Tony Shaw, flanker Greg Cornelsen, hooker John Meadows and centre Paul McLean.

This was McLean's only match at centre in a 30 match Wallaby career spanning eight years. Usually a full back or fly-half, he plugged a gap caused by injuries while his regular positions were capably filled by Roger Gould and the brilliant Mark Ella.

Australia's UK and Ireland tour was dogged throughout by rain, cold and snow and, fittingly, the tour finale against the Barbarians was to be cancelled due to snow, with the Wallabies eventually airlifted by helicopter from their hotel in Porthcawl to Heathrow for their journey home.

By then they had beaten Ireland 16-12, but lost 18-13 to Wales, 15-11 to England and 24-15 to Scotland. However, they scored more tries than the home sides in all four internationals, and while rugby teams are always reluctant to blame their kickers for defeat, McLean's poor form with the boot was more than the margin of defeat in all three losses.

Injuries took their toll too, veteran scrum-half John Hipwell suffering persistently and playing only seven of 23 matches on tour.

Irvine was central to the passage of this match. He had a fine game with flawless place kicking. His fifth penalty drew the scores level immediately after half time and he added a conversion for a then record individual points tally of 17 for Scotland. He was also instrumental in Australia's scores. First, he had an attempted line-kick charged down by Simon Poidevin who went through to score the first try. Then he threw a pass behind debut winger Roger Baird, giving Australia the possession from which McLean kicked across field for left wing Brendan Moon to notch the second try.

Baird made an auspicious start to his international career as a defender but had little opportunity in attack, a scenario encapsulates his Scotland career of 30 matches in which he scored no tries.

Andy Irvine clears his lines, Scotland v England, Murrayfield, January 16, 1982
The great Andy Irvine © Getty Images

Roy Laidlaw and John Rutherford, Scotland's classy half-back pair for much of the 1980s, were typically smooth, but it was a missed touch-finder from Rutherford that led to the third Wallaby try. Mark Ella made space for Moon, who sent Andrew Slack on an arching run for the corner. Three tries and a penalty from McLean made it emphatically Australia's first half, but the kicker missed all three conversions and, by the end of the match, a further four penalties and a drop-goal attempt.

Irvine kept Scotland in the game with his trusty boot and the Scots were able to exert greater pressure after the break. Nine minutes from time, Rutherford squeezed a drop-goal over from behind a scrum. Two minutes later he hoisted a high kick into Australia's 22 from behind another scrum. Wallaby full-back Gould didn't get a hand on it and the ball bounced favourably for the chasing Renwick to gather and hurtle over for the try that won the match.

They might have scored again in the closing minutes, but for a forward pass from Renwick to Colin Deans in the move. Scotland finished the stronger team, but there were loud echoes of the 1975 match to which the Wallabies had also given so much but also lost to a Renwick try.

An otherwise wholesome match was marred midway through the second half by Shaw felling his opposite number, Bill Cuthbertson, with a full-blooded right hook, under referee Quittenton's nose. He was questioning the referee at the time and already upset by a deliberate knock-on by Alan Tomes, Cuthbertson's constant niggle caused him to lash out. Astonishingly, Quittenton allowed Shaw to remain on the field, deeming the punch 'unpremeditated'.

Shaw was dropped for the England match a fortnight later - that of Erica Roe fame - and his captaincy career was over. He played only two more internationals, both against Scotland.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    Saints play down George North injury fears

    Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder said George North was "OK now" after the winger was carried off the pitch on a stretcher following a blow to the head

  • Rugby

    Chiefs v Cheetahs

  • Rugby

    Reds can still make rugby finals: Graham

    After another disastrous night out, the Reds fell to a one-point loss to the Lions, but Reds coach Richard Graham still believes the Reds have a chance to make the finals

  • Football

    Injured duo Welbeck and Sterling to miss Italy friendly

    England manager Roy Hodgson confirmed that Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck will miss Tuesday's international friendly against Italy with injury, while Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling will also be excused from the game in Turin

  • Tennis

    Murray cruises into Miami Open third round

    Andy Murray made a solid start in his quest for a third Miami Open title as he dispatched Donald Young to reach the third round in Florida

  • Formula One

    Tough at the top

    Who has driven in the most GPs before taking pole position?

  • Formula 1

    F1 cost cutting: Not putting money where the mouth is

    Mudslinging and an agreement on something that will never happen, it's all in a day's work for a Formula One boss, as Maurice Hamilton explains...

  • Rugby

    Unsavoury sledging did not end with Potgieter

    Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports

  • Rugby

    Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 7

    Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks

  • Formula 1

    Storm clouds gather in Malaysia

    Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix

  • News
  • Features

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income