‘The Toonie Flip’ – the pass so good it has its own nickname

Scotland 20/1/1996Gregor Townsend© Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO
Very few moments in rugby are so iconic that they get their own nickname but then the ‘The Toonie Flip’ was no ordinary moment.

Very few moments in rugby are so iconic that they get their own nickname but then the ‘The Toonie Flip’ was no ordinary moment.

Scotland hadn’t won in France for 26 years when they headed to the Parc des Princes for their second match of the 1995 Championship.

The visitors trailed 21-16 with only seconds left to play and seemed on their way to yet more Paris heartache until current Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend produced a moment of improvisational genius to give his side an improbable 23-21 victory.

Townsend, playing outside centre, stepped off his left foot and broke between Thierry Lacroix and Laurent Cabannes.

With the ball held high in his right hand, he offloaded out of the back of it into the waiting arms of Gavin Hastings – streaking through at pace to score under the posts.

Townsend’s moment of magic became known as ‘The Toonie Flip’ and as he attempts to end another 20-year winless streak in Paris in Round Three of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations this weekend, the 45-year-old talks us through his memories of that moment.

Like so many great Championship moments, the late Bill McLaren’s commentary at the time only adds to the magnitude of ‘The Toonie Flip’, while Hastings talked to the BBC about his memories of the event in 2013.

Bill McLaren: “Townsend. Townsend half through again. Gavin Hastings has burst away and he’s going to score between the posts! An incredible try!

Gavin Hastings: “That was my own personal favourite try. We finally managed to beat France in Paris.

Gregor Townsend: “When we scored that try in the last seconds of the game against France in 1995, obviously it was important to us as a nation.

“We hadn’t won there for 20-plus years and the way we did it obviously was a great way to win the game.

BM: “It was a marvellous effort by Townsend. The little flick pass and then the captain heading straight through a gap like a barn door – that is a memorable try.

GT: I can remember so much about that game. I can remember the movement, what the defence did and hear the voice calling for the ball from Gavin Hastings. It’s very vivid.

GH: “It had been 26 years since we won there and for once we put everything together over the course of 80 minutes and in the last few minutes I managed to scamper over.

“I got a pass from Gregor Townsend on the 10-metre line and I scored under the posts. We hung on to record what was a pretty great victory.”

GT: “Paris, for Scotland teams – we’ve not won there very often but we’ve had some great days when we have won.

“We have a huge opportunity this year to do something we’ve not done for a long while. It’s 20 years since we last won there but this team will definitely give it a real good crack.”