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EYEWITNESS: Ruaridh Jackson talks about his favourite rugby memories from 1990 to 2019

He has always been one one of the north-east’s most understated and self-effacing rugby heroes.

But that doesn’t mean Ruaridh Jackson lacks passion for the game he has graced during the professional era, or diminishes his enthusiasm for recalling some of the most stellar moments throughout his professional career.

On the contrary, the mercurial stand-off enjoyed a very special homecoming when his last-minute penalty helped Scotland beat Samoa at Pittodrie in a 2010 cliffhanger.

And the long-time Aberdeen FC fan, who was thrilled at being offered the chance to play at the famous stadium, has sat down with the Press and Journal to talk about his favourite memories from that contest and a wide range of other gripping tussles.

The 33-times-capped Jackson’s choices include a record-breaking victory over Australia, one of the greatest comebacks in Scottish sporting history at Twickenham, and his pivotal role in an emphatic win for Glasgow Warriors against mighty Munster.

Jackson talked about how his leg “started shaking” just as he was getting ready to take the vital kick at Pittodrie; explained how his annoyance at “lippy” Ronan O’Gara fuelled his desire to succeed against his Irish opposite number; discussed a “crazy” weekend where he was asked to play in two different countries in the space of 24 hours; and how he wanted to “curl up and die” during the first half-an-hour of the 2019 Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham – as the prelude to witnessing a second-half “miracle”.

He has also chosen to enjoy a trip down memory lane to a special March day in 1990, one which will never be forgotten by the tens of thousands of Scottish aficionados who thronged the streets of Edinburgh in a giant impromptu party.

These are the matches which have helped bring a smile to his face – and which have provoked a similarly delighted reaction from Scots on the sidelines.


This was a tight-fought contest between two evenly-matched teams on a cold, snowy winter’s day in the Granite City in 2010.

The Pacific Islanders battled hard and it seemed as if they might emerge with a share of the spoils as the clock ticked down on the Pittodrie encounter.

But then, the debut boy Jackson both lifted his compatriots and dampened his opponents with a last-gasp score to earn his side victory.

”I was thrilled to be there at Pittodrie, the place where I had watched the Dons, and it was very memorable, particularly after we won the late penalty.

”It was only when I was getting ready to take it that I noticed my leg was shaking. And that briefly caused me a few jitters. But it was okay once I took the kick and it sailed through the posts. There was relief as much as joy.”


Six-try Glasgow went top of the Pro12 with a terrific 51-24 win over Munster at Scotstoun in a match in 2013 where the elusive Jackson scored all of 22 points.

Sean Maitland and Niko Matawalu intercepted to score tries, prior to Doug Howlett and Dave Kilcoyne levelling as both sides served up a feast of attacking rugby.

But Jackson’s metronomic kicking gave the hosts a superb platform before he, Mark Bennett and Stuart Hogg scored tries – securing the bonus point.

Former All Black Howlett notched another for Munster, but John Barclay intercepted and went over to ensure Glasgow ended on a high note.

“It was an important win because Glasgow showed they could go toe-to-toe with a big club like Munster and beat them, even when they had a really strong team on the pitch.

”It was very satisfying for us all, and it was good to get one over Ronan O’Gara, who was in my face at the start of the match. He was pretty mouthy and trying to run the show – and it soon became pretty annoying.

”But that all changed the longer the game went on, Glasgow scored more than 50 points and the fans gave us tremendous support. It was a terrific result all round.”


Scotland ended their autumn international series in 2017 with an unprecedented hammering of 14-man Australia at Murrayfield.

The Scots ran in eight tries, all but one coming after Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu was dismissed for a shoulder charge to the head of Hamish Watson.

Byron McGuigan, a late replacement for Stuart Hogg – who was injured in the warm-up which meant Jackson was in the match squad – scored twice on his first Test start.

Ali Price, Sean Maitland, Jonny Gray, Huw Jones, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also crossed for the Scots.

Then, the following day, Jackson travelled down to Wales and turned out for Glasgow in their 47-6 demolition of Ospreys.

“This was surreal – I was originally named as Scotland’s 24th man and, normally, that means you don’t play any part in the proceedings.

“But then, Hoggy got injured, and I was in the frame. I didn’t have much time to prepare, but that only made the final scoreline more remarkable.

“Afterwards, we were celebrating, but when I was with the rest of my team-mates, I suddenly got a call from Glasgow. They told me they still wanted me to play in the match against Ospreys on the Sunday. I couldn’t quite believe it – and I had to rush down there on my own  – but it turned out okay in the end.

”One weekend, two matches, two big wins and I was involved in both of them. It was like going back to my school rugby days!”


This was one of the most famous days in Scottish sporting history and it led to David Sole’s team winning the 1990 Grand Slam at the expense of favourites England.

Never before had the teams lined up with so much at stake, but it was the hosts who seized the initiative with their slow march onto Murrayfield in a cauldron of noise.

And thereafter, Tony Stanger latched on to a Gavin Hastings kick to score the try which eventually made all the difference.

“I was too young to be at the game, but I’ve watched it repeatedly and it left such a huge impression on me just how incredibly committed the Scots were throughout the match.

”They never allowed the English time to settle and were always ahead on the score board from the first few minutes. Then, of course, there was Tony Stanger’s try when he somehow or other managed to ground the ball despite all the pressure.

“They were really under the cosh at the end, but they held firm and got the job done. I have complete and utter respect for that team and that performance.”


This is the highest-ever draw in the history of international rugby: a mad tale of two halves amid the Twickenham tumult in 2019.

England raced into a 31-point lead in as many minutes and seemed destined to shatter all sorts of scoring records as they ran amok.

But Stuart McInally broke clear before Darcy Graham (twice), Magnus Bradbury and Finn Russell crossed in a second-half blitz that made it 31-31.

The visitors’ Sam Johnson scored a seemingly decisive try late in the proceedings, only for England’s George Ford to make it 38-38 at the death, his conversion tying matters with the last kick of the contest.

Despite the extraordinary drama, both sides looked deflated at the final whistle.

Jackson, who had watched the interaction between Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell at the interval – and talks about it in this interview – was among those with mixed emotions as he reflected on his team’s inability to hold out in the dying seconds to secure what would have been their first win at Twickenham since 1983.

Jackson said: “It was an astonishing afternoon and I went through every kind of emotion. As 24th man, I had to sit through the early stages when England seemed to score every time they attacked and the Twickenham crowd was going crazy. By the time it got to 31-0, I was worried how bad it might get and just wanted to curl up and die.

”The mood in the dressing room at half-time wasn’t great. There was tension and I can remember Finn Russell having a discussion with Gregor Townsend.

“At that point, it was all about keeping things respectable and tightening up our defence. Nobody expected what came in that second-half, when Finn played out of his skin and suddenly, there was this flood of tries and we were winning.

”The only regret was that we couldn’t hold out, because we hadn’t beaten them at Twickenham for so long, and here was an opportunity. But for them to level with the last kick of the match – it left us with all kinds of different emotions at the end.

”And I still wonder if England would have conceded the try we did in the 80th minute. It was a pressure situation, but the best teams learn how to deal with these things.”