France v Scotland: Scots' 1999 Five Nations glory relived

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Kenny Logan celebrates Scotland's win over France in 1999
Kenny Logan kicked 11 points as Scotland tore France apart in 1999
Six Nations: France v Scotland
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Friday, 26 March Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online from 19:30 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds & BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW; live text and highlights on the BBC Sport website & app

The finale of the 1999 Five Nations championship - the last of its kind - remains one of the most momentous weekends in Scottish sport.

Five Scottish tries in 27 breathless first-half minutes against France on the championship's final weekend - and the honour, the following day, of being crowned the last ever kings of the Five Nations.

On Friday, Scotland will aim to emulate the titans of 22 years ago, the last men's side to claim victory on French soil. Jim Telfer's men earned a 17-point victory over the Welsh in week one, followed by a three-point loss against England at Twickenham, and a 17-point win over Ireland in Edinburgh.

That set up a finale that required Scotland to win in Paris and hope Wales would somehow beat England.

To Paris, then, in the company of four men who helped make it all happen...

'I was tucking into prawn cocktail'

Centre Alan Tait: "France had won back-to-back Grand Slams. They put 47 points on us in 1997. I played in that one. Then they put 51 points on us at Murrayfield in 1998. I played in that one as well."

Hooker Gordon Bulloch: "Jean-Luc Sadourny, Christophe Lamaison, Philippe Bernat-Salles, Olivier Magne, the Lievremont boys - Marc and Thomas. An incredible team. None of those guys were playing against us in 1999, though."

Wing Kenny Logan: "They hadn't had a great season. The championship was all down to us and England. If we beat France then England had to beat Wales the next day to win the title. Most people didn't expect us to beat France and pretty much nobody thought Wales would beat England."

Number eight Stuart Reid: "I was in the A team for most of the season until Eric Peters got injured. Paris was my second cap. I'd won my first four years before. I was sitting beside George Graham at dinner the night before. I was tucking into prawn cocktail. George was going, 'No, no, no. What's that? Prawn cocktail! The night before a game like this! No, no, no. You'll be sick as a dog tonight. You'll no' be playing tomorrow'. He walked away, laughing."

Logan: "We knew we had a good team. Glenn Metcalfe was on fire at 15, John Leslie putting fellas away in the midfield, Alan Tait running great lines from his rugby league days, Gregor Townsend pulling the strings at 10. Gregor was always a thinker and a bit of a space cadet. Late for meetings. Wearing the wrong clothes. But when he was running with the ball, there was nobody better than him. He scared defences. They didn't know what to do with him."

John Leslie attacks for Scotland against France
John Leslie's thunderous carries helped Scotland's backs flourish

Tait: "I was nervous. We knew if we won we were putting pressure on England. The title was still up for grabs but not many people thought we were going to win it. John Leslie came running over to me in the warm-up. He had that New Zealander attitude, John. He come running over and says, 'Look at them, they're tiny, they're scared of us. Just go hard and straight. Run over the top of them.' I'd heard a lot of players saying that in my rugby league days, but never in union. To hear that from John gave me a real lift. Seeing his belief in the team was infectious."

Reid: "We came out for the anthems and the band messed up Flower of Scotland. It was so slow it was like the funeral march. We stopped singing and it kept droning on. Gary Armstrong was going around saying, 'That's deliberate, that is. They've done that on purpose.' Whether it was or wasn't didn't matter. He used it."

'We're gonna get absolutely cuffed'

Bulloch: "I don't think France took us as seriously as they would have done had it been England. Something bizarre happened. Something completely freakish."

Tait: "France scored after a couple of minutes. A big break by Thomas Castaignede and finished off by Emile Ntamack. Castaignede had to go off straight away. It was no harm getting rid of him."

Reid: "When they scored in the first few minutes it was like, 'This is bloody typical. I've waited four years to get my second cap and we're gonna get absolutely cuffed.' Within a few minutes, Kenny was making a break and Glenn was making a break and we're under the bar. And then we're under the bar again."

Bulloch: "Glenn cut them to ribbons. Martin Leslie got our first try, Alan got our second, Gregor got our third and his fourth in four games. You were pinching yourself. 'What on earth is happening here?' We'd watched France do that to teams for years. They did it to us two years running."

Gregor Townsend celebrates scoring for Scotland against France in 1999
Current Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was in majestic form in 1999

Tait: "It was fearless stuff. We attacked from everywhere and they didn't have an answer. They scored to make it 21-12 to us but we just went downfield and got a fourth. Glenn cut through again and I scored. I did an Ellery Hanley celebration. I played alongside Ellery for four years and when he used to score he would go over to the crowd, nod to them and then nonchalantly flop over. He was my hero. The best player I ever played with. I did it for one of my tries. I ran behind the sticks, dropped to my knees, looked up to the crowd and then flopped over."

Logan: "Martin Leslie got a fifth after a big bust by Gregor. That made it 33-12. Then they score and it was 33-19. The first half was a blur. In attack, it felt easy. It felt like we didn't know anything else apart from just going for it. I remember Jim Telfer saying beforehand that if we're going to beat these guys then we had to cut loose. We weren't getting into an arm wrestle with them."

'We had a few beers that night'

Reid: "The crowd started booing and whistling towards the end of the first half. We had to defend a bit in the second but we closed it out comfortably at 36-22. The realisation that we were going to win was something special. I was looking around at Gregor and John Leslie, Gary Armstrong, Taity - world-class players - and I was thinking, 'This is just scintillating to be part of.'"

Logan: "We had a few beers that night. People were saying, 'Imagine if Wales win tomorrow and we're champions.' Nobody really thought they would."

Reid: "We went our separate ways on the Sunday. Gregor went back to Brive, where he was playing. Glenn went to Heathrow to get a connecting flight to New Zealand for his wedding. I watched the Wales game with half a dozen of the lads in the Three Quarters bar in Grassmarket in Edinburgh. Scott Murray and Martin Leslie and a few others. The place was stowed out."

Alan Tait
Alan Tait scored two of Scotland's five tries

Logan: "I went back to London. I was living with [former England lock] Simon Shaw at the time. I think he wanted us to win the title because he wasn't in the England team. I watched it with Shawsey."

Bulloch: "I watched it in a pub called the Whistler's Mother on Byres Road in the west end of Glasgow. I was with some mates."

Tait: "I went back to Kelso, but once I got home I couldn't really settle and I went down to the Black Swan to watch the game. A few of the locals were in. We were only half watching it, but then it got interesting and then it got very interesting. When Gibbsy [Scott Gibbs] went over for the winning try the place erupted. The beer was flowing. I bought a couple of bottles of champagne at one stage. The cheaper stuff, mind. Nobody was used to drinking champagne in the Black Swan."

'We were champions'

Logan: "We were champions. That's when the phones started ringing. We were going to be presented with the trophy at Murrayfield on the Monday so we had to get back to Edinburgh as fast as we could. Shawsey dropped me off at the airport. He said, 'You boys are going to be unbearable.'"

Jim Telfer and Scotland players with the Five Nations trophy in 1999
Jim Telfer and Scotland were presented with the Five Nations trophy at Murrayfield

Bulloch: "We didn't really know what was going to happen, but something like 10,000 people turned up. Everybody was in blazers, but then word came down from Famous Grouse [the team sponsor] that we had to wear some branding, so they brought out these bloody awful caps. I'm not sure anybody wore them."

Logan: "When I think back on it now, I have the England game in my head as well as the France game. I missed three kicks at Twickenham and we lost 24-21. I hadn't kicked in three weeks because I had a knee injury and it was all strapped up. If I'd kicked those goals then we'd have had a Grand Slam. It is what it is. It was still a major trophy - our last in 20 years."


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