Twenty two years after representing his country at rugby league, dual code Scotland star Alan Tait has finally been awarded his cap. Kelso-born Tait was a rugby league superstar with Leeds when he was able to represent his nation in the 13-man code, Scotland entering the Emerging Nations World Cup in 1995.
Having turned down the opportunity to play for England the previous season, Tait proudly made his debut in a pick n’ mix team. He had played in a World Cup Final for Great Britain and been a star of the all-conquering Widnes side of the late eighties, but that did not assure him of special treatment. Instead Tait roomed with a student player and mucked in with the rest of the squad of accountants, teachers, pilots, haulage-workers and electricians, as they took on Russia, the Cook Islands and the United States in a tournament that took them all over England.
Sadly, the nascent Scotland RL did not present caps to their players back then. But that has been rectified with a series of presentations by the current management. Almost all of the 1995 squad have now received their caps, Tait presented with his at West of Scotland RFC following Scotland Under-19’s handsome win over Northern Ireland recently. Also receiving caps were three Tait’s team-mates from the 1995 pioneers Billy Gamba – now a dentist in Aberdeen, and two Edinburgh-based players in former Currie RFC centre Gavin Manclark, who scored twice in the very first match against Ireland, and Struan Douglas, who became the third generation of his family to represent Scotland at rugby. Struan’s father John Douglas is the ex Scotland and British Lions Rugby Union star while his maternal grandfather, Alec Brown, went on to be president of the SRU after playing for them.
Scotland RL have now arranged cap presentations during the World Cup to those players based down under, with the likes of Charlie McAlister, Jim McLaren and Darrel Shelford all expected to receive their caps.