John Scott - England - Biography of his rugby union career for England.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 17 February 1979

Click on image to enlarge

      Number 8
      Tuesday, 28 September 1954
      Exeter, England.
  • England
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John SCOTT - England - Biography of his rugby union career for England.


                                                             (Part 1) 1978-1979

Exeter born John Scott was in the same mould as England teammate Roger Uttley in that he could play in either the second or back rows. Indeed, John played three times at lock forward and earned thirty-one caps in his favoured position of Number Eight. He was also one of a number of Englishmen of his era to play for a Welsh club along with the likes of Tony Swift and Maurice Colclough. Colclough and Swift both played for Swansea, whilst John captained Cardiff in four successive seasons and helped them win five out of six Welsh Cup Finals between 1981 and 1987.


His international debut came in 1978 at the age of 23 in a defeat by France, though England did achieve respectability that year by winning two of their four matches. He played in all four of matches of the 1979 season, one as a replacement, and England ended with a record of one win, one draw and two losses. However, with the exception of the last quarter of an hour against Wales where they conceded four tries, England performed well, particularly up front. In addition to his efforts in the Five Nations, John also featured in the 10-9 loss to the All Blacks at the end of the year.


Though the defeat was only by one point, it was seen as a terrible failure given that everything appeared to be in England's favour going into the game. Indeed, just a week before, the Northern Division had thrashed the Blacks 21-9 thanks to the efforts of Roger Uttley, Tony Neary and Bill Beaumont. John in particular received heavy criticism for his performance at Twickenham, and former All Black scrum-half Chris Laidlaw wrote in the Telegraph that Scott was: "playing his own private game, detached from the real contest, like some kind of mercenary soldier accompanying the main body of the troops." (Jon Collins)




John Scott is pictured above playing rugby for England on 3rd. January 1981.

Photo George Herringshaw.  ©

                                                             (Part 2) 1980-1984.


Despite the criticism levelled at him, John remained in his number eight berth for the 1980 Five Nations campaign and got his country off to a fine start by scoring a pushover try in their opening 24-9 victory over Ireland, in addition to scores by Steve Smith and Mike Slemen. England followed it up with victory over France before taking on the Welsh at Twickenham against a backdrop of hype and bad feeling. England won 9-8 in a game notable for the sending off of Welsh flanker Paul Ringer and John's aggression towards his Cardiff teammate Terry Holmes.


England then sealed the Grand Slam with victory over Scotland at Murrayfield, a win engineered by the creativity of Clive Woodward and the finishing of John Carleton. However, the two seasons that followed saw England flatter to deceive, and by 1983 the Grand Slam was a dim and distant memory. Halfway through the season, captain Steve Smith was axed to be replaced as skipper by Scott, but the change didn't make much difference, and both remaining matches were lost. However, John did have the consolation of making up for his 1979 disappointment by being part of the side that beat the All Blacks 15-9 at Twickenham.


In 1984 England were approaching rock bottom and could only manage a solitary victory over Ireland. Then, following captain Peter Wheeler's decision not to tour South Africa, Scott was reinstated as skipper. Both tests against the Springboks were lost by large margins, and meant that John had failed to win any of his four matches in charge. That tour saw Scott receive heavy criticism from the press and effectively ended his international career. John will always be remembered for a comment he made in retirement, declaring that the fledgling Rob Andrew was "the worst player to ever represent England". (Jon Collins)