Imminent arrival has Scott Lawson on call

Having a mobile on during an interview is a big no-no for any player but, in Scott Lawson’s case, an understandable compromise

Scott Lawson
Scott Lawson

Newcastle Falcons’ Scottish hooker has had his phone by his side all week, waiting for the news that his wife has gone into labour with their fourth child.

The problem is, her due-date clashes directly with tomorrow’s home match with London Irish.

Something, somewhere, may have to give.

Luckily for Lawson, a pragmatic approach from all parties has kept the strain to a minimum ahead of the 3pm kick-off.

“The other three kids didn’t arrive on time, and hopefully this one can hang off for a wee while until after we get the win against London Irish,” jokes the 32-year-old front-rower, his iPhone perched on the corner of the table in Kingston Park’s East Stand bar.

Named in the starting line-up for an Aviva Premiership clash between the pre-season tips for relegation, the need to balance family commitments with sporting considerations could come to a head, should the call come.

“The cut-off point is 1pm, pretty much,” says Lawson, approaching his imminent arrival in the same unflustered way he does his rugby. No fuss, just straight into it without worrying about the ‘what-ifs’. When I turn up at the stadium I will turn my phone off, and it is total concentration on the game.

“I have done it before, and my wife is great.

“She is very understanding, and there is no real problem.

“She knows that when you marry a rugby player this is the kind of thing that can happen, and she is fine with it.

“The important thing to emphasise is that once you are at the ground on game-day, then anything else goes to the back of your mind until the final whistle.

“There is a three or four-hour window where her family will step in and be by her side, so we have tried to account for every eventuality as best we can.”

A mere hop up the A69 away, the 38-times-capped Scottish international adds: “We are out in Hexham, so it is only half-an-hour up the road and it shouldn’t be too bad.

“It’s not as if I am rushing her over the border to make sure the baby is born in Scotland.

“We have three English kids as it is, so we may as well stick to the pattern and have four of them!

“The others were born when we were in Cheltenham, and I was playing for Gloucester.

“We think of them as Scottish, even if their accent is a mixture of West Country with a bit of Geordie thrown in!”

Lawson’s arrival on Tyneside is owed largely to that rarest of things in modern sport – a direct swap deal. As Newcastle’s Michael Mayhew (pictured left) made the journey to London Irish, Lawson swapped the Madejski Stadium for Kingston Park.

Neither side seems to be complaining, with Mayhew named on the bench against his former club.

“It seems to have worked out well for both of us, to be fair,” he says, having shone in pre-season, but only making his first senior start last week due to a hand injury.

“It is not that often you see a swap deal which suits both parties as well as this one appears to have done.

“I don’t think either side is complaining.

“Michael seems to be in the thoughts of the London Irish selectors after dealing with some injuries, and I am loving my time at the Falcons. I suppose these windows of opportunity occasionally appear, and it just seemed to be a good fit for everyone.”

Buoyed by his belated debut in last Saturday’s 23-16 loss at Brive, brass band and all, he says: “Away games in France are always brilliant.

“The way the home crowd get behind their team is great and, while we couldn’t get the result, we still put in a decent performance.

“There were a lot of positives to take, and it was a good learning tool ahead of the London Irish game to have a tough test like that against a Brive side doing pretty well in the Top 14 Championship over there.” Taking a losing bonus point which leaves his side poised to mount a charge for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, domestic considerations remain at the forefront of the Lanark-born hooker’s mind.

“The Premiership is our focus, as you would probably expect,” he says.

“That is where we want to compete, and our main thoughts are centred around that.

“The Amlin Challenge Cup is great in terms of getting guys like myself back from injury.

“It gives younger players an opportunity, to show what they can do, and to put themselves into consideration for the first team on a more regular basis.

“It is a great competition to be in, and Brive was a good hit-out leading into a tough game against Irish.”

Depending on your bookie, either Newcastle or the Exiles were the favourites for the drop when the pre-season odds were formulated over the summer.

Neither has lived up to the billing with winless Worcester cut adrift at the bottom, the Falcons and Irish both winning two of their five games in a start to the season showing plenty of promise.

Lawson says: “London Irish have had a very similar start to ourselves, really. Perhaps not in terms of performances like Newcastle, but in their ability to grind out results and get those vital points on the board. They have done pretty well

“From the Newcastle point of view, we have evolved from where we were at the start of the season to where we are now.

“We are getting better, and the results will come.

“There are no excuses any more in terms of people gelling in. It is about going out and performing, and we have two teams this weekend who will go out and do that.

“There are four very similar teams who were on nine points going into this weekend, all with similar aspirations, and these are the games in which we need to be performing.”

Offering an inside track on tomorrow’s visitors, for whom he made 18 Premiership appearances last season, he says: “Yeah, when you have guys who have been at other clubs they tend to lead a bit of the analysis stuff, and have an input into the preparation.

“Teams don’t tend to change that much, and our analysis is so good that when I have gone to the coaches with a few pointers on Irish, they had already written down the exact things I was talking about.

“Our analysts look at a five or six-week block of games to get a very thorough understanding of how a particular team operates.

“Now it is a case of doing the things well that we have identified through that process.

“London Irish have got a strong back three who carry hard, and they live off counter-attack ball.

“Like ourselves they have good ball-carriers in the back row, and they seem to have evolved in the Premiership after a couple of struggles in recent seasons.

“They are a more solid unit than they were last season, and the results are showing that.”

Unperturbed by tomorrow’s grim forecast, he adds: “Having moved up from London I have been impressed by the Newcastle weather.

“But the back end of this week has been a little different with all the wind and rain.

“Being Scottish I can’t complain about it, and as a front-rower it is days like this when you really show your worth in difficult conditions.”

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