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123 Apr 28 '19
Four Lions tours as head coach, a Grand Slam with Scotland and a Heineken Cup with Wasps. Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys China . It is little wonder that when we think of Sir Ian McGeechan, who turns 70 on Oct. 30th, the word that immediately comes to mind is coach.But it also makes it rather too easy to forget his achievements as a player. Had he done nothing more in the game after hanging up his boots in 1979, he would still be worthy of note.Rankings of 42nd in John Griffiths listing of Scotlands best 50, compiled in 2003, and 29th in the Heralds top 50 last year might seem modest, until you consider that Griffiths was picking from 970 men who had played from Scotland before the summer of 2003, and the Heralds experts had close on another 100 to consider. If any international rugby is an elite performer, somebody who rates in the top three to five per cent belongs to an elite within an elite. Among Scotlands centres the Herald rated only Scott Hastings, Jim Renwick and Phil MacPherson higher.His talents were not of the sort which grab attention and propel players into selection at an early age. Born and educated in Leeds, and playing his rugby for Headingley and Yorkshire, he was noticed by Englands selectors before Scotlands, turning down an England trial invitation in 1967 because he saw himself as a Scot.The Scottish trial came a year later, but it took four more years and -- as he put it with characteristically wry humour -- two retirements and four injuries before the call came to play against the All Blacks in 1972. Chris Rea, a clubmate at Headingley, was reported to have judged him no more than a good club player, while one particularly hidebound member of the Scottish press pack, evidently ignorant of a long history of borrowing from many parts of the rugby world, persistently questioned his eligibility.His first caps were won at outside-half and he expected to lose his place when first choice Colin Telfer returned from injury. Instead he was moved to centre, which as he has recalled, was an immense boost to his confidence: I realised they wanted to keep me.And with good reason. Scotlands selectors also recognised him as one of those unflashy performers who brings the best out of the players around him.John Griffiths describes him as solid in defence, clever in attack and always aware, a player who knew his role and played it to perfection. That he arrived in the Scotland team at the same time as brilliant full-back Andy Irvine was excellent news on several levels -- not least, as McGeechan dryly noted, that many observers tended to assume that they were the same age, knocking five years off him. As Nick Oswald has pointed out, he was the quietly effective balance creating the opportunity for Irvines devastating running abilities.While he moved between his two positions, he was never dropped by Scotland, playing his final season as captain in 1979 and ending with 32 caps. There were no trophies -- though hard to beat at Murrayfield, Scotland were poor travellers in the 1970s -- and no tries. He sees 1973 and in particular 1975 as years in which Triple Crowns got away, and has pointed out that I would like to think that I made between eight and ten scoring passes, which is what I felt my game was about. But he did drop seven goals for Scotland, generally against the best opposition -- there were two against the All Blacks and two more against Wales, the dominant European team of the era, as well as one against France on his Five Nations debut.And like many good players in less powerful Home Nations teams, he blossomed as a Lion, going to South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand in 1977 and playing in all eight test matches, all but one as a starter at centre.McGeechans qualities as a player who enabled the talents of others were evident in the partnerships he formed with centre partners as contrasting as the mercurially brilliant Jim Renwick and the powerful, crash-balling Alastair Cranston for Scotland. Yet none was more fruitful than the link he formed with Irelands Dick Milliken for the Invincible Lions in South Africa.Clem Thomas wrote that you never saw a higher work-rate than that of the 1974 centres, McGeechan himself recalled as a career highlight the praise heaped on him and Milliken by full-back JPR Williams, a demanding critic, and the drop-goal which broke South Africas resistance in the test match at Pretoria. That Lions team was, he said in 2000 the best handling team ever, in which we would just look at each other and know exactly what was required.That he would progress into coaching, once a knee injury had ended his playing career at 33, looks in retrospect inevitable. He had the communication skills which come with a teaching career and had taken RFU coaching courses while still a player.He began at Headingley in 1980, but was rapidly incorporated into the Scottish national set-up, rising through the Anglo-Scots, under 21s and B team before becoming assistant to Derrick Grant in 1986. He was, legendary commentator Bill McLaren remembered, always in control of his thoughts and a master at keeping things in perspective, and at game analysis.Those analytical skills were honed in hours of watching video tape of matches. All of this, it should be remembered, when he was also holding down a full-time teaching job and was unpaid for the hours he put into rugby. When his video recorder broke down in 1991, he had to pay for an expensive state-of-the-art replacement, and had no thought of asking the Scottish Rugby Union -- the ultimate beneficiary of his labours -- for a contribution. Only in 1994, when Northampton appointed him director of rugby, was he able to devote himself to rugby full time.His all-round record as a coach speaks for itself, but it will almost certainly be his record with the Lions that writes his name deepest into the games annals. He has had one huge advantage -- that in an era where England have more often than not been the dominant home nation, his background equipped him to be trusted and accepted on both sides of the Anglo-Celtic faultline.But it took more than just that happy accident of birth and descent to make him so admired and successful. The verdicts of outstanding Lions tell their own story. Martin Johnson, his captain in South Africa in 1997, reckoned him an exceptional coach, a guy with tremendous vision and tactical awareness, always ready to try new things and happy to give his players responsibilities.Robert Jones, scrum-half in the victorious tour of Australia in 1989, called him one of the best coaches I have ever played for, recalling that He did not dictate. Everyone had his say and that he wanted everybody to be involved and to be able to work closely together.Rob Andrew, who went to Australia in 1989 and New Zealand in 1993, credited him for transforming his career, saying I only worked for him for two summers. I wish it had been longer.Jim Telfer, with whom he formed a hugely effective good-cop, bad-cop combination for both Scotland and the Lions, reckoned that -- perhaps because of his dual qualification -- he spoke better about Scotland and Scottishness than anyone else he had known. His pre-match speech before the Grand Slam decider in 1990 has gone into history, but so too has his talk to the Lions before the second test against the Springboks in 1997. Gregor Townsend recalled it as packed full of emotion and intelligence and spoken with the humble authority that Geech has quietly projected throughout his coaching career.His attachment to the Lions was such that, four years after saying in New Zealand that he was only likely to come back if theyre taking coaches in wheelchairs, he became chief coach for the fourth -- and presumably last -- time in South Africa in 2009. A relentless competitor, who has memorably described New Zealand rugby players as Scots who have learnt how to win, he will not have enjoyed losing the series. But this in its own way was as much an achievement as his victories in 1989 and 1997, a rare Lions tour in which the series was lost but did not break into bitter recrimination -- as its predecessors of 2001 and 2005 had done -- and which did much to restore the credibility of the whole concept.Amid that litany of achievement is one great might have been -- his turning down the invitation to coach England. Might he have added World Cup winner to his CV and, presumably, acquired his knighthood a few years earlier than he eventually did? For those who have argued, particularly since the failure of the 2005 Lions, that any half-decent coach could have taken the trophy given the talent at Englands disposal, the answer is presumably yes. But even for those of us who feel that Sir Clive Woodward played an immense part in their success, is there any reason to believe that Sir Ian -- as he became in 2010 -- might not also have accomplished the deed?There is of course, as with all counter-factuals, no definitive answer. And what he has achieved makes him beyond doubt one of the modern games great figures. That game will doubtless unite in wishing him a very happy birthday, and hoping that there are many more to come. Nike NFL Jerseys China . The Lightning are 2-0 so far on a four-game road trip, giving the club five straight wins as the guest and improving Tampas away record this season to 11-8-2. Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Authentic . Scott Kazmir allowed four hits in seven shutout innings, Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer in a three-run first inning and the Indians maintained their hold on an AL wild-card spot with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night. . Numbers Game looks into the Canadiens securing the services of Thomas Vanek in a trade with the New York Islanders. The Canadiens Get: LW Thomas Vanek and a conditional fifth-round pick. Melbourne United are searching for a more productive scorer to replace axed import Cedric Jackson, coach Dean Demopoulos says.The 2012-13 MVPs sacking followed Melbourne starting the season at 3-6, having been cruelled by injuries to important starters Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield.Jacksons production has been down since his move from the New Zealand Breakers at the start of the season, averaging just under 10 points and five assists in nine games, and there were signs he failed to gel with his new teammates on the court.Melbourne will announce his replacement soon and Demopoulos on Friday said the club had searched far and wide, including in the NBA where he was an assistant coach for several years.It was more or less a perfect storm, Demopoulos told AAP.We had so many things happen to this ball club the last few weeks with injuries and we just felt that it was time to change and we needed a different type of player to overcome the odds.The decision was painstaking and gut-wrenching. The respect that my coaches, players and this entire organisation have for what Cedric has done made it extremely difficult.Former Los Angeles Lakers Steve Blake and Josh Powell are among the players lured from the NBA this season, both filling impport spots for the Sydney Kings, while the Breakers on Thursday signed David Stockton, the son of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton. Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys. Melbourne will head into Sundays game against the talent-stacked Sydney without star three-point shooter Blanchfield, who has an injured groin.Goulding, who played for the Boomers at the Rio Olympics, is also likely to miss as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.I dont think hell be ready for the weekend but you never know, Demopoulos said.Todds going to be out a little bit longer than Chris but hes making progress too.We miss both those guys desperately, obviously, and were hoping they get back as soon as possible.Melbournes on-court chemistry has been sorely lacking this year but Demopoulos is confident bringing in another import wont make things worse.I hope that if there is one step backwards, there are two really large steps forward, he said.We havent nearly hit where wed like to hit as a group. Its been fragmented ... and circumstances put us in a situation where its very, very difficult to get rhythm and cohesion right away so we need to overcome that. ' ' '