An inspirational leader and dynamic handling forward, David Sole will be forever remembered for his ‘slow walk’ as captain of Scotland’s 1990 Grand Slam-winning side.
Educated at Blairmore prep school and Glenalmond College in Perthshire, he was ferociously competitive in the loose, with a turn of pace that belied the traditional prop’s attributes.
This athletic and skilful style represented the future of modern forwards, and David earned his first international cap in 1986 in an 18-17 victory over France.
Four years later came his defining moment as, instead of running out as usual, he strode purposefully on to the Murrayfield pitch at the vanguard of the Scotland side as they prepared to face England in the Five Nations decider.
Unfancied against their star-studded rivals, he inspired the underdogs to a famous 13-7 victory, sealing Scotland’s third Grand Slam after previous triumphs in 1925 and 1984.
In The Complete Book of Rugby (1997), Richard Bath wrote: “As a statement of resolve, the now famous walk was a masterstroke from which the English never recovered as they lost the most high-profile game in Five Nations history. It also cemented Sole's name in Scottish folklore.”
As well as his Scotland duties, Sole was the first-choice loosehead prop with the victorious 1989 British & Irish Lions in Australia. He performed magnificently in all three Tests and captained the Lions on two occasions, deputising for Finlay Calder.
David also captained the Barbarians on several occasions and, in 1992, led a World Invitation XV to a rare victory over New Zealand.
Playing his club rugby at Edinburgh Academicals and Bath, he hung up his boots in 1992 after winning 44 Scotland caps, 25 as captain. He was awarded an OBE in 1993 and his sporting talent has been inherited by his children, three of whom have represented Scotland – at netball and cricket.
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