Fagerson brothers spent ‘special’ time with parents after Scotland opener

Matt Fagerson is gearing up for Tonga on Sunday (David Davies/PA)
Matt Fagerson is gearing up for Tonga on Sunday (David Davies/PA)

Matt Fagerson revealed how he and brother Zander got to spend a “special” day with their devoted parents last week as they savoured the first time they had both played for Scotland in the same match at a World Cup.

The siblings featured in last Sunday’s 18-3 defeat by South Africa in Marseille.

Prop Zander, who had played at the previous World Cup, was on for the first 55 minutes at Stade Velodrome and back-rower Matt, who missed out on selection for the 2019 showpiece in Japan, was introduced from the bench in the 64th minute.

Although the result did not go as planned, the match held obvious sentimental value for the Fagerson family, and the brothers – two of five siblings – got to reflect on it with their parents Gwendolyn and Jonathan as the team were given some down time at the start of last week following the Boks showdown.

“It was amazing, our parents came through to Antibes (near the team’s World Cup base in the south of France) and me and Zander spent the day with them,” Matt told the PA news agency.

“It was really nice. We went for ice cream, had some food, went to the beach. They’re a huge part of why we do what we do and it was really special to have them out here and spend that time with them.

“We’re a very sporty family. Our little sister is in the Scotland hockey squad, one of our brothers ran a marathon the other day and our other brother is a DJ so everybody’s pretty busy at the moment.

“Our parents are incredibly proud of us and to be able to spend a couple of days with them out here was really special.”

At this time four years ago, Matt was at home, effectively on standby, after agonisingly missing out on selection for the squad.

The Glasgow back-rower has a good idea, therefore, of the range of emotions hooker Stuart McInally will have gone through after finding himself in a similar position over the past month before getting the call to join the squad on Wednesday after Dave Cherry withdrew with concussion after he banged his head when slipping on the stairs at the team hotel last Monday.

“We’re all gutted for Dave,” said Fagerson. “It was a terrible accident that happened and we’re all behind him but Rambo (McInally) was unfortunate not to make the squad in the first place. We have some quality hookers but Rambo’s a quality player and we’re stoked to have him back in the squad.

“In 2019, I had about a week to get over it and then I was back in with the Glasgow boys doing pre-season.

“The message to all the boys in that situation is to keep fit because things like this happen, injuries happen.

“It needs the whole squad buy-in. Injuries happen in our sport so everyone should try to stay fit because if you get the call to come out you have to make the most of it and integrate back into the team.

“Rambo has come back in great shape, he’s ready to hit the ground running.

“It’s definitely a weird old time for him. It was obviously really tough for him when he didn’t make the squad and he had to get over that but it’s a fairytale that he gets to come out here and hopefully get that 50th cap (he is currently on 49).”

After losing to South Africa, Scotland know they must win all three of their remaining pool matches against Tonga, Romania and Ireland. They will probably require bonus points from their next two outings to give themselves an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals when they go into their October showdown with the Irish in Paris.

“We’ve got an uphill battle now but we’ve got a lot of belief in the squad so we’re looking forward to it,” said Fagerson.

“We’re going to have to put our best foot forward against Tonga on Sunday and then hopefully get a big finish against Ireland.

“If you start looking for bonus points too early in a game you can sometimes miss the beat in the first half but I think we will probably need bonus points so we’ll be looking to up the scoreline.

“We’re just focusing on Tonga just now and trying to start the game really well.”