Former British Lion and renowned rugby scribe Clem Thomas provided an apt description of fullback Gavin Hastings saying; "There is no man more respected for his abilities both on and off the field than this delightful Scot, who is the epitome of the rugby man; brave, resolute, adventurous and one who loves a party." Indeed, with 61 caps won between 1986 and 1995 and a national record of 733 points, there can be little doubt that the Watsonian is one of Scotland's best ever players, if not the best. His trademark was ultra reliable goal kicking and fearless tackling, but amongst his many other achievements he also scored 17 tries to place him third on Scotland's all time list on his retirement.
At 6' 2" and weighing 15 stone, Gavin had the physical attributes to dominate at fullback and his power was reminsicent of JPR Williams at his best ten years earlier. Given his phenomenal talent and superbly athletic physique, it at first seems odd that Gavin was actually a very reluctant trainer, a trait he had in common with another great fullback of his era, Serge Blanco.
However, Gavin was a man who saw little point in leaving his game on the practice field, and was the master at performing when it really counted. As a youth he showed his pedigree by becoming the first player to captain a Scottish schoolboys side to win in England and, in 1985, went on to skipper Cambridge University to victory in the Varsity Match. Full international honours came his way in 1986 when he displaced incumbent fullback Peter Dods in the Scotland side to face France at Murrayfield, joining his younger brother Scott in the process. Gavin suffered the worst possible start to his career when he put the ball straight into touch from the kick off, a blunder which resulted in a try to the opposition. Lesser men would have crumbled, but Gavin showed his character by hitting back with a record six penalties to down the French 18-17. Later in the season Gavin also helped put England to sword at Murrayfield with a 21 point haul in Scotland's 33-6 win. A 10-9 win in Ireland in their final fixture (the picture above shows Gavin chipping ahead with Hastings jnr looking on during the game) left the Scots with six points from their four games. All in all it was a highly successful introduction to the international game and by winning three from four, Scotland had backed up their 1984 Grand Slam with a share of first place in the Championship. On a personal note Gavin's haul of 52 points was a Championship record, a fine achievement in his debut season. In a one off international against Romania later in the year Gavin then equalled his tally against England with another 21 point haul. (Jon Collins).