As he waits to learn whether an injury to centre Matt Scott might open the door to a first-ever appearance against the Springboks in Sunday’s viagogo Autumn rugby test at Murrayfield, versatile Scotland threequarter Max Evans has revealed a taste for open-top bus rides as part of a sporting celebration.
Being part of the Castres Olympique squad when they won the French rugby Championship last season was Evans’ first experience of sharing success with fans in such a way – and how he would love to do something similar with Scotland. Although Evans didn’t actually play in the three knock-out ties which rounded off the 2012-13 French campaign, he did make nine appearances through the regular season which entitles him to a full part in club folklore and clearly a bond has been established between him and Castres.
“This Scotland camp is the first I’ve attended since Castres won the Championship and Ruaridh (Jackson) was first to ask what it was like to be part of the club when the title was won,” said Evans, who was rested for the summer tour of South Africa and missed out against Japan last weekend.
Evans added: “The best thing about winning the French Championship is that I’d never been on an open-top bus before. I’d won great games but not a title like that. It is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The final, which resulted in a 19-14 victory against overwhelming favourites RC Toulon, was played in front of 85,000 at the Stade de France.
Evans recalled: “A crowd of that size for a club game was amazing and it was mainly a sea of red from Toulon fans. They out-numbered our supporters by a long way, but at the end there were all these people in red who were silent and our guys in blue going nuts.
“All the crowd got involved and when we got back to Castres just about the whole town was out in celebration. It’s still carrying on now. What is great is it is something that ties you to the town for life.
“One of my neighbours was in the team that won the Championship 20 years ago and every year he is invited back to do a lap of the Castres field.
“He actually said: ‘I’m glad you guys have won it so we don’t have to do it every year.’
“Before that I would really like to do an open-top bus ride with a successful Scotland and when Ruaridh asked how it was after winning the final, we agreed it would be great to do that with Scotland as well.”
Evans has had his injury woes over the past year and he has had the occasional niggle recently including when he was withdrawn from a Heineken European Cup match against Leinster. But he is now fit and raring to go as and when required with the hand injury suffered by Scott in the final play of the 42-17 win over Japan raising the stakes.
“Johnno (coach Scott Johnson) says you really have to go into every international as if it could be your last, putting everything into it and your body on the line. It will be no different to any other game if I am chosen. My goal is to try and help win three games in this series and put in some good performances.
“Playing in France has given me a more relaxed outlook. I just go out and concentrate on rugby and try to work my butt off to try and get a Scotland jersey,” said Evans.
At the start of this season Evans was joined at Castres by former Glasgow colleague Richie Gray, the Scotland and Lions second row.
“I told Richie on his arrival that you don’t feel pressure as much and in terms of atmosphere it is a step closer to international rugby.
“Since joining Castres Richie has been working hard on his line-outs and that is an area where he wants to bring real efficiency into the Scotland team.”