Gary Armstrong

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This article is about the Scottish rugby player. For the English association football player, see Gary Armstrong (footballer). For the Bahamian cricketer, see Gary Armstrong (cricketer).
Gary Armstrong
Date of birth (1966-09-30) 30 September 1966 (age 48)
Place of birth Jedburgh, Scotland
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Scrum-half
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
1987-1995 Jed-Forest RFC
correct as of 5 March 2007.
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
The Borders
Newcastle Falcons
correct as of 5 March 2007.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 5 March 2007.

Gary Armstrong (born 30 September 1966 in Edinburgh) is a former Scottish rugby union player who played scrum-half. He played for Jed-Forest RFC,[1] Newcastle Falcons,[1] The Borders and represented Scotland[1] and the British Lions.[1] His nickname is the Border Terrier.[1] In Jonny Wilkinson's book How to Play Rugby My Way Armstrong is given a similar nickname–"the scrap-yard dog"– because Wilkinson said that he had never met anyone as "tough as him".

Richard Bath writes of him:

"...despite his apparently painful shyness, Armstrong has proved throughout his career to be obsessively focussed once out on the pitch. A relatively small man, Armstrong tackles way over his weight and combines this with quick service to his backs and an uncanny ability to break around the fringes just as easily from the first-phase as from ruck or maul. Although Armstrong failed to shine on the victorious 1989 Lions tour of Australia, his gritty nature stood him in good stead when the chips were down in 1990, that famous year for Scotland... he perhaps more than any other player was the on-field catalyst for Scotland's 13-7 win in the Grand Slam decider against the Auld Enemy England at Murrayfield."[1]

Scotland's most capped scrum half[edit]

Gary Armstrong made his international debut in 1988, in a game against Australia, which Scotland lost 31-13.[1]

Gary equalled Roy Laidlaw’s then record as Scotland’s most capped scrum-half when he won his 47th cap against Romania in August 1999. He then joined the 50-cap club when he led Scotland to victory in the World Cup play-off match against Samoa that October.

He retired from international rugby after Scotland’s 18-30 defeat by New Zealand in the 1999 Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

Five Nations[edit]

Gary Armstrong led Scotland to the 1999 Five Nations Championship, playing his eighth Test as captain as Scotland grasped pole position with their stunning 36-22 victory against France.

He was skipper throughout the previous two Five Nations Championships and was also captain on Scotland’s 1999 visit to South Africa, when he played in all four matches and scored the opening try of the tour in the victory over Border.


Had not injury intervened – and the presence of such peers as Bryan Redpath and Andy Nicol – Gary would surely have won many more caps in an international career that began in 1988.

Twice, in 1992 and 1994, he suffered serious knee damage and it spoke volumes for his tenacity and courage that he returned to the top flight.[1] He had succeeded a fellow Lion and Scotland cap, Roy Laidlaw, as scrum half at Jed-Forest.

British Lions[edit]

Gary Armstrong then went on to emulate Laidlaw by playing for both Scotland and the Lions, touring with the latter in Australia in 1989.


He joined Newcastle Falcons in 1995/96,[1] and his appetite for the fray was seen to best advantage when the club won England’s Allied Dunbar Premiership title in 1998, featuring in all 22 matches of the season.[2] Many supporters believe Armstrong to be the best player in the club's history.

The Borders[edit]

Gary finished his career by returning home to play for the newly created professional team, The Borders. He retired in 2004 at about the same time as Doddie Weir.

Career statistics[edit]

International career: 51 caps. 1988 - A. 1989 - W E I F Fj R. 1990 - I F W E NZ1 NZ2 Arg. 1991 - F W E I R (WC) J I WS E NZ. 1993 - I F W E. 1994 - E I. 1996 - NZ1 NZ2 A. 1997 - W SA (rep). 1998 - It I F W E SA (rep). 1999 - W E I F Arg R WC (SA U Sam NZ).

Points: 21 - 5 tries.

(Rewritten from the SRU website - used with permission)


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bath, p123-4
  2. ^ "Allied Dunbar Premiership, 1997/98 / Newcastle Falcons / Player records". Retrieved 7 September 2014. 

External links[edit]