TWICE IS NICE, Says Nikki; Walker Wants to Write His Name in History Books by Beating Springboks for a Second Time with Scotland
Byline: by DAVID BARNES
NOVEMBER 16th, 2002 is an historic date in the modern history of Scottish rugby. Unfortunately, the man who made the crucial contribution on the day Scotland beat mighty South Africa 21-6 at Murrayfield has very little memory of what happened.
This was the second match in what would prove to be a disastrous tour for the Springboks.
They had lost heavily to France in their opening game and questions were already being asked about whether head coach Rudi Straeuli was up to the job.
However, they still arrived in Edinburgh as huge favourites to beat an inexperienced Scottish side which had struggled to victory over lowly Romania the previous week.
The weight of history was also against home hopes. They hadn't beaten Southern Hemisphere opposition in 20 years.
So it was against all expectations that Scotland dominated the match, with three Brendan Laney penalties plus a converted try from Budge Pountney giving them a 16-6 lead with only six minutes to go.
At that stage, the vast majority of the 58,223 supporters in the stadium, plus millions watching on television at home or in pubs and rugby clubs the length and breadth of the country, were simply hoping the boys in dark blue would survive the inevitable late onslaught the Springboks surely had tucked up their collective sleeves.
Then, from a scrum close to the Springbok line, visiting centre Andre Pretorius fumbled possession -- and Nikki Walker pounced on the loose ball just as it squirted over the dead-ball line.
And, as the nation went wild, the hero of the moment wore the confused look of a small boy lost in a big city.
It wasn't the question of whether the television match official would rule that he hadn't exerted sufficient downward pressure that was troubling the winger, it was that he quite literally didn't have a clue as to what was going on.
'I was knocked out just before I scored the try, so it is all a bit of a blur and, to be honest, I still don't know if it really was a score -- but it's on my stats, so I'm happy with that,' recalled Walker, who will renew old acquaintances this weekend, when he returns to the Scottish starting line-up against the Springboks of 2010.
'It's obviously a great thing to have on your CV. There are not many Scotsmen who have beaten South Africa, and even less who have done it twice -- so it would be nice to join that club,' he added.
Back in 2002, Walker seemed to have the world at his feet. Standing at 6ft 4in and weighing in excess of 16 stone, he was a hulking presence on the wing and naturally drew comparisons with the great Jonah Lomu. …