Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland

Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland 
by David Barnes and Peter Burns

Featuring interviews with over seventy players who have represented Scotland since the Second World War, Behind the Thistle gives a unique insight into the drama and emotion of playing in that most rarefied of environments – Test match rugby. From Russell Bruce and Frank Coutts, who played for Scotland in the 1946 post-war Victory Internationals, all the way through to the present day, David Barnes and Peter Burns uncover the heart and soul of Scottish rugby as Scotland’s great players recount the ecstasy of victory and the despair of defeat and colour their stories with innumerable humorous anecdotes and heart-warming memories.

Behind the Thistle presents inside access to over sixty years of private moments on tour, on the training ground, in the changing room and during the tumultuous heat of battle itself, as well as divulging many of the post-match antics that occurred thereafter. This is the story of what it is really like to play for Scotland, revealing the sacrifices and joys experienced by those who have shed blood, sweat and tears in pursuit of glory in the international jersey.

Absorbing, illuminating and compelling, this is a must-have for any fan who has dreamed the dream of playing for Scotland.

David Barnes is a freelance journalist, covering club, pro-team and international rugby for various Scottish newspapers. In 2005 he co-authored Jim Renwick’s autobiography, Centre of Excellence, and in 2008 he was shortlisted for Rugby Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards for The Accies: The Cradle of Scottish Rugby. He established The Offside Line in 2016.








Peter Burns was born and brought up in Edinburgh and educated at The Edinburgh Academy. He read English at St Andrew's University and then returned to Edinburgh to complete a Masters in Publishing. He is Sports Editor and Special Projects Manager for Birlinn Ltd.

Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland
Published 1 November 2010; reprinted 2016
ISBN: 978 1 90971 503 5
Available to purchase here


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