Former Scotland and British & Irish Lions captain Gavin Hastings captivated a large attendance at the pre-match lunch at Dr Hickey Park prior to Greystones’ AIB League Division Two win over Belfast Harlequins last Saturday.
Gavin Hastings, famed for his place-kicking brilliance, was right at home at Greystones where they have had kickers of the calibre of Tony Ward and Richie Murphy and their present number 10, Leinster ‘A’ talent James Power, certainly knows where the posts are too.
Many rugby-playing pupils from Presentation College Bray have progressed through to the ‘Stones senior squad over the years and the north Wicklow club were delighted to also have the current Pres Junior squad, their coach Kevin Conroy and school principal Gerry Duffy in attendance at the lunch.
Topping the guest list alongside Hastings was Pres ‘old boy’ and former ‘Stones, Ireland and Lions prop Nick Popplewell.
Pres Bray won the Leinster Junor League recently for the first time in their history and the proud captain Phillip Haughton and vice-captain Conor Greene, along with their team-mates, received an appreciative round of applause from the large attendance.
At the meal, Hastings spoke of the pre-professional era and how at the 1987 World Cup the Irish, Welsh and Scottish squads had made the 40-hour plane journey together and that the Scots and the Irish had been booked into the same hotel.
On arrival in the lobby, the Scotland coach Jim Telfer barked out, ‘ten minutes in the lobby, then meet for a training run.’ His Irish counterpart, addressing the Irish lads, roared: “Ten minutes lads in the lobby… then into the bar!”
Two hours later the Scottish players returned battered and worn out, while the Irish were refreshed and lively.
Next day and in a scrummaging session against the Irish, Hastings claimed the Irish won the session on the basis that their alcohol was a contributing factor and that if ever he was in charge of a team for that length, he most definitely would use the Irish system.