With two tries and eight conversions, for a total of 26 points scored, it’s fair to say that Adam Hastings was the star man in Scotland’s 61-0 demolition of Russia. The Glasgow Warriors fly-half rose to the occasion and delivered the kind of performance coach Gregor Townsend, and all Scottish rugby fans had been waiting to see from the 23-year-old.
It was clear that Hastings enjoyed the experience of his first Rugby World Cup start. He played with energy and creativity throughout, and a smile on his face, something that endears a player to all supporters. He even thought he had completed his hat-trick in the dying embers of the game before the TMO cruelly denied him that feat.
Given that it was largely a second-string side that took to the field against Russia, Townsend will have been delighted with the high level of performance demonstrated by his team. Scrum-half George Horne bagged a hat-trick of tries, linking up beautifully with Hastings throughout the match, a combination Russia simply couldn’t contain.
It was the second game running that Scotland managed to keep their opponents off the scoresheet. After a disappointing performance in their first match against Ireland, Townsend’s side have found their feet, beating Samoa 27-0. The performance against Russia saw the shackles loosened completely in an impressive display of teamwork. For those Betting on 2019 Rugby World Cup, perhaps Scotland are not to be dismissed as contenders to go far in the tournament.
On Hastings’ part, he was the key player for Scotland against Russia, linking the attacking play and deceiving the opposition with a variety of chips, grubber kicks, and clever techniques. It was the kind of fly-half performance that all rugby fans would admire. Horne was quick to commend his teammate after the game: “I have a lot of fun playing with Adam, we enjoy each other’s style of game. I thought he kicked excellently, he put us in the right areas of the field.”
It’s that word ‘fun’ that perhaps packs the biggest punch. No word could better describe Scotland’s performance in that match. To any spectator, they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying every minute. To see Hastings, in particular, play with such freedom, and no feelings of pressure or inhibitions, was a joy to watch.
We could look back at this World Cup as Hastings’ coming of age as an international rugby player. Of course, Russia offered little in the way of resistance, but that was largely down to the way Hastings and Scotland played. For a fly-half, a dominant attacking performance is the best way to build confidence, to reassure himself that he has the qualities needed to perform at this level. It could be that this World Cup paves the way for Hastings to go from strength to strength from now on.
For those who may be unaware, Adam is the son of former Scotland international captain Gavin Hastings, a player who many fans still hold dear in their memories. Many regard him as one of Scotland’s all-time greats, and that brings a unique pressure on the shoulders of his son.
Hastings knows full well that there is an added interest in him because of his father’s legacy. Ahead of the tournament, he was quick to point out that he firmly believes his ability has got him where he is. “I did struggle with it when I was younger,” he said in a Telegraph interview. “I did let it get to me a bit. It was hard to know whether you were actually a good player or if you were just getting picked because of that link. As you get older you realise coaches are not stupid enough to do that.”
His performance against Russia will have destroyed any notions that Hastings is where he is because of his father’s influence. Off the back of a fine World Cup performance, the 23-year-old must now focus on forging his own path in international rugby, on creating memories and building a legacy. The game against Russia offered a taster as to what the future may hold for this bright and likeable young fly-half, and you can’t blame Scottish rugby fans for liking what they see.