Hall of Fame honours icons of Scottish rugby

A GROUP of Scottish rugby heroes had their legendary status officially stamped at Murrayfield last night when they were among the first tranche of people inducted into the inaugural Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame.

Gavin Hastings was revealed as the winner of the public vote for the player of the 1990s, edging out his brother Scott, Grand Slam skipper David Sole, Alan Tait and scrum-halves Gary Armstrong and Bryan Redpath, while Finlay Calder, the British and Irish Lions captain of 1989 and a key member of the 1990 team was chosen as the player of the 'Eighties'.

The judging panel, chaired by John Jeffrey, and featuring his fellow former Scotland caps Sir Ian McGeechan, Norman Mair, Chris Rea and John Beattie, had stated in recent weeks that the task of choosing the first inductees had been a hugely difficult one, especially with a rule having been agreed that no-one currently playing or employed by the SRU could be yet honoured.

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That ruled out a number of players in the 2000 'Noughties' decade, and so the judges opted to launch that particular era by recognising McGeechan due to the fact that he ended his involvement with Scottish rugby in 2005 and received his knighthood at the end of the decade.

The SRU President Ian McLauchlan, who won 43 caps and toured twice with the British and Irish Lions between 1969 and 1979, was not one of those inducted. However, one of his predecessors in the SRU role, and former team-mate, Andy Irvine, was selected as the first inductee from the 1970s. Mighty Mouse's great front-row colleague, Sandy Carmichael, was the choice for the 1960s. In welcoming everyone to last night's gala dinner at Murrayfield, McLauchlan insisted that he was merely delighted to see the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame officially launched.

"I'm honoured that this has been established during my presidency and look forward to this event being the first of many inductee ceremonies where we can pay tribute to more of the heroes and heroines of our game," he said.

"Deciding on those who we would first welcome into the Hall of Fame was certainly no easy task, provoking much discussion and debate, and I'm indebted to the panel members drawn from our rich history. Thanks must also go to all those supporters who took the time to vote for the 1990s award category and for their favourite player.

"Involving supporters was an important element in ensuring the success of this event. I would also like to welcome the members of our current Scotland squad and head coach Andy Robinson OBE, and wish them well during the forthcoming Autumn Tests against New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa.Everyone has their preferred players, memorable moments and unforgettable achievements, and I hope we have included some of your favourites here tonight."

The gala dinner, hosted by BBC presenter Dougie Donnelly and attended by Robinson and many current and past internationalists, coaches and administrators, provided an incredible trawl through the history of Scottish rugby.

Rory Bremner provided a fascinating take on the Scottish game, with plenty of his trademark wit and impressions, but the centre-piece of the event was the recognition of the award-winners.

The 'Hall of Fame' was launched with the induction of David Bedell-Sivright, the wing-forward, with silky backs GPS 'Phil' Macpherson and Ken Scotland chosen for the period between the wars and from 1945 to 1959 respectively.

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The judges also honoured four other characters from Scottish rugby's past who had either never represented Scotland on the field of play or were deemed worthy of special recognition in this inauguration 'Hall of Fame'.

Ned Haig, the Jedburgh butcher who is widely credited for inventing the game of seven-a-side rugby at Melrose, was the first of these and was closely followed by Bill McLaren, the former Hawick player, PE teacher and journalist who went on to become known around the world as 'The Voice of Rugby'. McLaren died in January of this year and his widow Bette was at last night's dinner along with his daughter Linda, and grandson Gregor Lawson collected the award in recognition of McLaren's induction.

Jim Telfer, who played for Scotland 25 times and captained his country, was there to accept his induction in person, as the audience were reminded of how he toured twice with and captained the British and Irish Lions, coached Scotland to the 1984 Grand Slam, assisted Ian McGeechan in leading Scotland to the 1990 Grand Slam, coached the Lions in 1983 and 1997, before steering Scotland to the last Five Nations Championship title in 1999.

The final recipient of a special award was the late great Gordon Brown, the Scotland lock of the 1970s who made his name on the successful British and Irish Lions tour in 1974 and made eight Test starts for the Lions during the decade, on top of his 30 Scotland appearances.

World War 1 to World War 2: GPS MACPHERSON

(Oxford University, Edinburgh Acad)

Phil Macpherson was a centre/stand-off won 26 caps for Scotland. Making his international debut against France in 1922, he played in Scotland's matches that season and went on to score his first try for his country against Wales in 1924. In 1925, he captained Scotland to their first Grand Slam. Rated the most brilliant attacking centre of his era bar none, he played his last game against England in 1932.

1945-1959: KEN SCOTLAND

(Heriot's, Cambridge Univ, Leicester and Aberdeenshire)

Full-back who won 32 caps for his country. Both his debut and his last international came against France at Colombes, the former in 1957 and the latter in 1965. He was a world-class and gifted individual, who set new standards for full-back play, pioneering the counter-attack role, truly a player ahead of his time. One of the stars of the 1959 Lions tour, scoring 12 tries, he also represented Scotland at cricket.

1960s: SANDY CARMICHAEL (West of Scotland)

One of the speediest, most versatile props ever to pull on an international jersey. Making his debut against Ireland in 1967, he went on to earn 50 caps, a record for a Scottish forward at the time, and was notably involved in two heroic try-saving tackles in the victory over France in 1969. He played for the British Lions on the 1971 tour to New Zealand and 1974 tour of South Africa. One of the bravest and fairest players to grace the game, his last cap was v Ireland in 1978.


(Cambridge Univ, West of Scotland, Edinburgh Univ)

Debuting against Wales in 1900, Bedell-Sivright won 22 Scotland caps. A pioneer of the wing forward role, he was said to be hardest man to play for Scotland and is the only Scot to play in three Triple Crown winning sides. He was the only player to tour with both the 1903 and 1904 British Isles sides (captaining the 1904 tour, aged 23) and also captained Scotland. A surgeon, he died on active service at Gallipoli.

1970s: ANDY IRVINE (Heriot's)

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Andy Irvine MBE earned 51 caps – 15 as captain and scored 273 points for Scotland. One of rugby's greatest running full-backs. With blistering pace and attacking from deep, he could turn off either foot and produce a thrilling display from nothing. Scotland's first real superstar player. Selected for the British Lions against South Africa (1974 and 1980) and New Zealand (1977), he scored a record five tries in a single game against King Country in New Zealand.

1980s: FINLAY CALDER (Stewart's-Melville FP)

Uncompromising in attack and defence, the openside flanker won the first of his 34 caps against France in 1986, his final game against New Zealand in 1991. With Derek White and John Jeffrey, he made up one of Scotland's greatest back-rows. He was the first Scot to captain the Lions since Mike Campbell-Lamerton in 1966, the first winning captain since Willie-John McBride in 1974 and the only 20th century captain to secure a series victory after losing the first Test.


(Watsonians, Cambridge University and London Scottish)

Chosen by a public vote ahead of Scott Hastings, David Sole, Gary Armstrong, Bryan Redpath and Alan Tait. Gavin won the first of his 61 caps against France in 1986.

A world-class full-back, he was Scotland's leading points scorer of his generation, and in 1995, scored the try and conversion that gave Scotland their first win in Paris since 1969. He captained both Scotland and the British Lions.

Special award: NED HAIG

The butcher from the Borders whose brainchild was rugby 7s. In 1883 Ned's club Melrose was reportedly suffering a shortage of cash and during a club meeting, Ned – who was captain – suggested putting on a rugby tournament as part of a fund-raising sports day. There wasn't enough time to play several full XV rugby games in one afternoon, so teams were pared down to seven men, with match times reduced to 15 minutes. Ned's inspiration is now played worldwide.

Special award: BILL McLAREN

The peerless Voice of Rugby, who for 50 years provided the most vivid and wonderful TV commentaries on the game. His overwhelming enthusiasm was matched only by his vast knowledge, incredible attention to detail and consummate impartiality. Awarded the MBE, OBE and CBE, the Freedom of Scottish Rugby in 2000 and the first non-international player to be inducted into the IRB's Hall of Fame in 2001, Bill retired in 2002 and passed away earlier this year.

Special award: JIM TELFER

James William Telfer has made an immense contribution to rugby at all levels for half a century. As a player he represented Scotland and the Lions, memorably scoring the winning try for Scotland in Paris in 1969. In coaching he was a pivotal figure in Scotland's 1984 and 1990 Grand Slams and coached Scotland to the Five Nations title in 1999. He was head coach of the Lions in 1993 but perhaps his finest hour was the 1997 South Africa tour, assisting Ian McGeechan.

Special award: GORDON BROWN

Legendary Scotland second-row; a triple Lion and fierce competitor; a ruthless assassin on the pitch and a true gentleman off the field – Broon frae Troon. Gordon made his debut in a win against South Africa in 1969 aged 22. Won 30 caps for Scotland and a further eight Test appearances for the Lions. The same qualities that he brought to the rugby field, he also displayed in a heroic battle against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, sadly passing away in 2001, aged just 53.

2000s: IAN McGEECHAN (Headingley)

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Sir Ian Robert McGeechan OBE made his international debut against New Zealand in 1972. At centre/stand-off he was capped 32 times for Scotland and toured with the Lions in 1974 and 1977, playing in all eight Tests. He won his last cap in 1979 and became assistant Scotland coach in 1986. Promoted to coach in 1988 his team won a Grand Slam in 1990. British Lions coach in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009, he rejoined Scotland as head coach in 1999.