Thirteen was certainly not unlucky for Former Pupil George Turner, pictured above during a 2017 assembly visit to aspiring rugby players at Stewart's Melville College, as he put in an amazing performance on his 13th Scotland rugby appearance to help the team defeat England at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years on Saturday!
Glasgow Warriors’ hooker Turner put in a near faultless display at the home of English rugby on his first ever appearance in the showpiece Six Nations event as the Scots won 11-6 to lift the Calcutta Cup.
The 28-year-old hit all of his lineouts and was very effective in the scrum and the loose before a calf problem saw him replaced by debutant Dave Cherry with little more than 10 minutes remaining.
Speaking directly after the big match, Turner said: “It hasn’t quite sunk in that we have won, but for us to triumph at Twickenham, it is such a good feeling.
“We felt really confident going into the game, but I was nervous, more nervous than I have ever been.
“It was the biggest game of my career, England away at Twickenham in the Six Nations and it was huge, but during the anthems and after kick-off I just tried to see it as another game of rugby. …I couldn’t watch the last 10 or so minutes after I had to come off, it was really tough.
“I got a good tackle in early doors and in a couple of early scrums and lineouts I felt comfortable and I just wanted to keep playing.
We felt comfortable out there, I am so happy it is hard to put into words, it was such a massive occasion.”
Although Scotland only won by five points in the end - their scores coming through a try by winger Duhan van der Merwe, with Turner involved in the build-up, and two penalties by stand-off Finn Russell - the victory was more comfortable than the score line suggests.
“We felt in control out there,” Turner states.
“We spoke about it at half-time and even with a yellow card at that point [Russell was in the sin bin] we felt good and we felt like we had left points out there at that stage, we could have had more [they were 8-6 to the good then].
“That is testament to the work rate and the strategies put in place and we were ‘on’ it for the whole 80 minutes.
“England are a great set piece team and that was a key point going into the game, we knew we had to match them there and take that strength away from them.
“Throughout the game our scrum and lineout were good and we took the options that were available to us to win the ball back time after time.
“We took a couple of steals in the lineout while we knew we had to work hard in every facet of the game. The boys did that and we matched them physically around the park.”
“We have just been thinking how amazing this win was, but we know there is more to come from us in this campaign and we can’t wait to keep it going against Wales this coming Saturday [February 13 at BT Murrayfield].
This success, which has lifted the nation, caps a brilliant few weeks for Turner.
Daughter Elizabeth, known as Lilly, was born last month and, along with Turner’s wife Madeleine, son William and stepson Campbell, the wee one was watching the match played behind closed doors on the television on Saturday.
“I knew they were watching, they give me a great incentive to do well and are an inspiration to me,” family man Turner concludes.
And on Saturday you inspired us all George, congratulations from all at ESMS!
By Gary Heatly