My Championship – Kenny Logan

Growing up on a farm, Kenny Logan had limited opportunity to get along to watch Scotland in the flesh as a youngster.

Growing up on a farm, Kenny Logan had limited opportunity to get along to watch Scotland in the flesh as a youngster.

In fact, he was 17 by the time he saw them live for the first time, but he chose the right game to attend.

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The 1990 Grand Slam decider at BT Murrayfield between Scotland and England remains one of the Championship’s most memorable encounters, and for Logan it was the perfect introduction to international rugby.

He recalls:  “I remember David Sole leading the team out onto the pitch and the atmosphere was just incredible. I thought to myself, I would love to be involved in that.

“Funnily enough, three years later I was selected at just 20 years old for my first cap.

“I didn’t realise the animosity that there was between the two teams then, but I remember the Grand Slam t-shirts the England supporters were wearing. They all took them off when England didn’t win the game!”

THE FINAL FIVE NATIONS   Logan made his first international appearance in 1992, with his Championship bow following in the Spring of 1993.

Among the highlights of an 11-year international career, there were many highlights – not least the victory in Paris in 1995 – Scotland’s first in the French capital for 26 years.

But the one that really stands out is in 1999, the final edition of the Five Nations before Italy joined the Championship.

Scotland could not have hoped for a better start to the Championship – John Leslie scoring a try against Wales after just ten seconds.

That game would prove to be a turning point for Logan, as he took on kicking duties for the first time at Test level.

“Gareth Rees got injured at Wasps so we were short of a goal-kicker in 1999. I was 27 and had barely kicked but no one really fancied it so I gave it a go,” said Logan, who won 70 caps in all for his country.

“Then in that first game against Wales, Duncan Hodge broke his leg, so Gregor Townsend went to ten and I started kicking. My first kick, I remember looking into the South Stand and seeing all those people. As a player you never really notice the noise but when you’re kicking, that changes everything.

“We scored from the kick-off in that game. Everyone says it’s important to start the Championship well – Scotland obviously didn’t this year – but we certainly did in 1999 with that try from John Leslie.

“Unfortunately we then lost at Twickenham when I missed three kicks at goal. It was a frustrating day because I kicked some that I wouldn’t expect to get, but missed three that I usually would. That is one that still stays with me.”

After beating Ireland, Scotland travelled to Paris to take on France, and came away with a 36-22 victory, with Logan kicking 11 points.

That win on the Saturday left Scotland requiring a Welsh win against England on the final day to be crowned champions.

Logan recalls: “We had all flown back to our respective clubs, so I was watching with my housemate at the time, Simon Shaw.

“No one expected Wales to win, but then Scott Gibbs went over and Neil Jenkins kicked the conversion to win it.

“Almost immediately I got the call to come to Murrayfield immediately because we were being presented with the trophy the following day.

“We got about 15,000 people there, although I do prefer the way it is now where you celebrate immediately on the pitch.”   SAYING GOODBYE   That win in 1999 remains Scotland’s last in the Championship, with Logan continuing a further four seasons through to 2003.

One of the bigger regrets for the winger is missing out on the clash with England in 2000, when Scotland denied their rivals a Grand Slam on the final day.

“I was meant to be playing against England in 2000 but then I broke my finger on the Friday before the game,” he said.

“It would have been great to beat England because I hadn’t done that but instead I had to watch from the sidelines.

“I played on until 2003, and I remember in that year’s Championship we played the final game against Italy. I was walking around before the game and I knew that would be my last home game.

“I was man of the match and did the post-match interview with Andy Nicol and John Inverdale. They asked me about the future and I just said it was great to finish on a high for my final game at Murrayfield. They were a little dumbfounded but it was the right time to stop.”

FROM PLAYER TO FAN   Logan hung up his boots for good in 2005, two years after bidding farewell to the international scene.

Now he works as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, covering Scotland, while also working at NatWest 6 Nations games in a corporate role.

And while coming to terms with retiring took time, Logan now relishes the opportunity to cheer on the team.

He added: “I spoke to Brian O’Driscoll last year and he asked me ‘When do you become a fan?’. For him it just clicked during that second Lions Test in New Zealand.

“It took me a couple of years after retiring to really become a fan. I would watch but I couldn’t really get into it.

“Eventually I got to the stage where I could accept that I was a fan, but one who had played at the highest level.

“I absolutely love going to games, especially with the way Scotland are playing.

“They have really taken huge strides. Vern Cotter laid a great platform and then Gregor Townsend has moved them even further forward.

“It’s just a case of sorting out their away form now. That win in Italy I hope will be a turning point. I think a year ago they would not have come back, so I was really impressed.

“Hopefully they can kick on from there and start to show the same form away from home going forwards.”