Rugby mourns Jimmy Johnston

SCOTTISH rugby has lost a formidable character with the death of Jimmie Johnston on Tuesday.

The former Melrose and South captain passed away in the Borders General Hospital after a short illness, aged 77. Jimmie won five Scotland caps in the 1951-52 season, making his bow against South Africa and scoring a try against England in his final Test.

A formidable forward, he moved from back row to lock, but remained a renowned ball player, not least through his sevens ability where he helped Melrose to 11 Borders tournament titles including two at the Greenyards.

An immensely likeable man, he had numerous highlights in a career stretching over eight seasons in the Melrose 1st XV and five decades with the Borders club, but many will recall his leading an immense South display against the touring Springboks in 1951-52. The team eventually lost 13-3, but the result is put into context by the fact the full Scotland side lost 44-0 to South Africa that year.

A successful businessman, having founded Baxter Johnson Oils, Johnston went on to play a major role in developing the Greenyards clubrooms and promoting the sevens tournament, twice taking on the role of president, including the club’s 1977 centenary year.

His funeral will take place on Monday at noon at Newtown Parish Church, Newtown St Boswells, then on to Wairds Cemetary at 1.15pm, and afterwards at the Greenyards.