Zander Fagerson compared to ‘tranquilised water buffalo’ as he scores key try for Scotland

The turning point in Scotland’s comeback win over Italy came when 20-stone prop Zander Fagerson flopped over the line for the strangest of tries.

Scotland prop Zander Fagerson flops over for a try against Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi. Picture: Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images
Scotland prop Zander Fagerson flops over for a try against Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi. Picture: Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

The touchdown set Twitter alight and the likeable big man revealed afterwards that his mum had texted him to say he’d been compared on TV to a “tranquilised water buffalo”.

He may lack the speed of Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe but Fagerson’s score early in the second half dragged Scotland back into a game that had been threatening to slip away from them.

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Everyone, including Fagerson, froze for a moment when the ball was offloaded from the floor by Hamish Watson. The Scotland tighthead eventually came to his senses and ambled over unchallenged.

Fagerson was convinced there had been some infraction when Watson’s popped pass took a deflection off the fingertips of Italy No 8 Jake Polledri before landing in the prop’s mitts.

“I was in disbelief when I got over the line, I was waiting for the ref to blow up for offside or something,” said the Glasgow Warriors forward.

“I was over the line and I just heard Scott Cummings shout, ‘put it down, put it down.’

“Luckily I listened to him and I managed to flop on the ball.

“I thought it might have been a knock on, I thought there might be an offside, I didn’t really know what was happening.”

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Italy were guilty of failing to follow sport’s oldest rule: play to the whistle.

“There was silence. Nobody was talking except for Scott, shouting: “Put the ball down!” added Fagerson.

“So I didn’t know what to do. My mum has texted me to say someone compared me to a tranquilised water buffalo, so I’ll take that!”

The match officials looked equally bemused by the try and English referee Luke Pearce sought clarification from ‘upstairs’. TMO Wayne Barnes confirmed the score was good then added to the general sense of amusement by saying had Fagerson “trundled” over the line.

In the altogether more serious matter of trying to win the Autumn Nations Cup, this was a decent start by Scotland. The 28-17 victory keeps the momentum going and Scotland will take on France on Sunday on the back of a five-game winning run.

But the first half in Florence was a struggle and Fagerson knows an improvement will be needed this weekend.

“We can’t start like that against France, we know that,” he said.

“France like to play and they can be physical too so we need to match that. They have a lot of experience and we need to deliver the full 80-minute performance.

“We weren’t quick enough in the first half, we tightened up in the second.

“We gave away too many penalties in the first half, we can’t do that. I don’t want to bad-mouth the ref, some of his decisions were quite funny. But we know there are areas we definitely need to work on.

“We are on this unbeaten run but we haven’t played our best rugby yet. We need to keep building phases, keep grinding teams down and in years gone by we probably wouldn’t have won that game.”

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