Former rugby league player Mark Burns has been capped by Scotland – 22 years after he actually played!
The 43-year-old from Mount near Outlane played in Scotland’s first ever official international against Ireland in Dublin in 1995.
And the long-serving Lindley Swifts player went on to make three further appearances in the Emerging Nations World Cup against Russia, USA and the Cook Islands – without ever receiving a cap.
That’s now been put right by Scotland RL as Burns – who retired only three years ago after 22 years with the Swifts – was honoured alongside his old teammates at a presentation in Bury.
“I’ve waited 22 years but it’s really nice to finally get a cap because I was proud to play for Scotland,” said Mark, an independent financial adviser and partner in Pennines IFA.
“They were good times and even though you stop playing you never forget about it so it’s nice to now have the cap and it’s something to show the kids.”
Mark qualified for Scotland through his grandparents on his father’s side of the family.
He said: “It was strange that in that first international – which was played as a curtain raiser to the Wigan v Leeds Super League match at the Dublin Showground – I was playing hooker for Scotland and Seamus McCallion, who was a teammate of mine at the Swifts at the time, was playing hooker for Ireland.
“Seamus, who was brought to the Swifts by Trevor Doyle, was coming to the end of his career having won the Championship and Challenge Cup with Halifax, while I was at the beginning of mine and was 21 at the time.
“Later in 1995 I was in the full international team again in the Emerging Nations World Cup which ran alongside the main World Cup and I got three more games in wins over Russia and USA and a defeat to the Cook Islands.
“The USA were a very big team, but the Cook Islands were simply huge.”
While that was the end of his senior international involvement, Mark – who lives with wife Lisa and children Chloe,18, Ben,12, and 14-month-old Amelia – he did represent Scotland again in 1996.
He added: “When I was at university in Lancashire I was in the back of a mini bus on the way to a match when our coach, John Risman – brother of the famous Lions and Leeds player Bev Risman – announced he’d been made coach of Scotland Students RL.
“That was in 1992 and when I told him of my Scottish grandparents he immediately invited me to the trials and it went on from there.
“In 1996 I was made captain of Scotland for the Student World Cup and there were three of us who played in both the Student World Cup and the full-blown one.”
So how did the long-awaited cap presentation come about?
who also played some summer rugby with his mates at Birmingham Bulldogs and Huddersfield Sharks, said: “The first I heard was when I got a call from Gavin Willacy, who has been involved with Scotland right from the start in the media, as a researcher and as a historian.
“He had established that the guys who played in the first set of internationals never, ever, got caps and wanted to check if I was the same.
“I told him that I hadn’t got a cap and it was something I was really quite sad about, but he told me then that they might be doing something about it before Scotland go to the World Cup this year.
“And that’s exactly what’s happened, which is really nice.
“It was smashing to meet up with lads at the presentation who, quite literally, I have not seen or been in contact with for 22 years.
“There were a few more wrinkles and a lot more grey hairs, but it was strange to see a set of old rugby players who have not put on 10 stones each!”