Over a decade of professional rugby in the front row can take its toll, but Edinburgh Rugby hooker Ross Ford is set to win his 100th Scotland cap 12 years after his first as Vern Cotter’s side aim to erase memories of their painful World Cup loss to the Wallabies at BT Murrayfield.
Ford’s Guinness PRO12 career began with Border Reivers, but it is in the Scottish capital that he has made his rugby playing home since 2007 and where – against the same opposition in 2004 – he won his very first Test cap.
It turned out to be a changing of the guard when he replaced the great Gordon Bulloch in a 31-14 loss to the Wallabies at BT Murrayfield.
And at just 32, Ford has 179 Guinness PRO12 appearances to his name, one Test cap for the British & Irish Lions along with the 99 Scotland caps he has won going into Saturday’s game at BT Murrayfield.
At the opposite end of the scale, Ford’s club colleague and fellow front-rower Allan Dell wins his first cap, while highly promising Glasgow Warriors prop Zander Fagerson plays in just his second Test.
With just 109-cap former Edinburgh teammate Chris Paterson and Glasgow Warriors’ Sean Lamont, who has 105 caps, ahead of him, he could go on to top the lot, but here we take a look at five of Ford’s most memorable moments in his 12-year career.
Australia 35-34 Scotland, 2015:
4 days to go | Last time Scotland met Australia it finished 35-34 to the Wallabies at Twickenham. Don’t miss out on being there! pic.twitter.com/oiuRnoch2u
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 8, 2016
So near, so far – though probably one of the most torturous memories of Ford’s career, Scotland’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to Australia was one of his finest international performances.
Ford’s form sky-rocketed under Vern Cotter, his lineout in particular became near infallible and his almost telepathic understanding with Jonny and Richie Gray was the foundation of Scotland’s success at the 2015 tournament.
Gray and Ford very nearly missed the game with bans, but the two combined to win seven out of seven lineouts before Ford departed late on and every single one of their scrums, while the hooker pitched in with eight vital tackles.
Scotland 9-8 Australia, 2009:
The Kelso-born converted back-rower has history with Australia, playing 77 minutes at the heart of Scotland’s historic 9-8 win in 2009.
Alongside Moray Low and Allan Jacobsen, Ford was critical in a formidable set-piece that helped Scotland end a 27-year hoodoo against the Wallabies.
Australia 6-9 Scotland, 2012:
Andy Robinson’s Scots followed that up with a first away victory in Australia in 30 years when they triumphed 9-6 in Newcastle in 2012.
Scotland turned in a resolute defensive performance in the pouring rain, defying the odds against a highly-fancied Wallabies side for a first win since Andy Irvine and Finlay Calder went Down Under in 1982.
South Africa 9-28 Lions, 2009:
Winning a Lions Test match is a privilege reserved for the select few and Ford can count himself among that number after a typically robust performance helped Ian McGeechan’s side to a three-try win.
The Lions were facing a first series whitewash against South Africa in 118 years, but Ford played his part in maintaining a proud tradition, replacing Welshman Matthew Rees after 37 minutes at Ellis Park to become the only Scot to win a Test cap on the 2009 Tour as Ugo Monye and Shane Williams scored in an emphatic win.
Ireland 20-23 Scotland, 2010:
Scotland were struggling when they arrived at Croke Park in 2010 – without a win and facing the wooden spoon, Andy Robinson’s side had squandered leads against Wales, Italy and England late-on.
But it was their turn to fight back as Dan Parks kicked a penalty at the death to secure a 23-20 win in Dublin.
Ford, Murray and Jacobsen fought it out with Irish trio Cian Healy, Rory Best and John Hayes in a titanic front-row battle, and though it was Parks’ boot that sealed the deal – it was a win founded on forward grunt, with Ford critical.
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