Death of oldest British and Irish Lion Gus Black at 92

The oldest British and Irish Lion, Scotland's Gus Black, has died at the age of 92.

Gus Black toured with the 1950 British and Irish Lions. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Gus Black toured with the 1950 British and Irish Lions. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The scrum-half won six caps for Scotland in a career lasting from 1947-50, although he made several other appearances in Scotland colours that, instead of internationals, were dubbed post-war “Victory Matches”.

He toured with the Lions on their 1950 trip to New Zealand – the last Lions tourists to travel abroad by ship – where he made two Test appearances, including the one international match that was drawn when the Scot blamed himself for not finishing off the hosts.

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“I shall go to my grave knowing I shall never forgive myself for not beating them,” Black said in an interview last year when recalling one incident where he broke from the scrum and failed to spot Welsh team-mate Ken Jones unmarked outside him. The match ended an 8-8 draw and the Lions subsequently lost the series 3-0.

Black was a medical student at Edinburgh University when called up by the Lions for that 1950 trip. His friend and fellow medic Ranald Macdonald, a stand-off, also made the touring party. But instead of partnering Macdonald in the Tests, Black’s fly-half was the great Irish out-half Jack Kyle and the pair of them never quite gelled as either would have wanted.

The trip lasted over six months and the touring party played a total of 30 matches including four Tests against the All Blacks, two Tests against Australia and an final “international” in Ceylon, as it was then known. Upon his return Black was never selected to play for Scotland again.

He did at least have the consolation of beating the New Zealand Army team at Murrayfield immediately after the war, many of whom would go on to represent the All Blacks. It was probably the closest Scotland have come to beating New Zealand proper at international level.

He was part of the Scotland sides that beat England at Murrayfield in 1948 and 1950, the latter being his final cap.

Black was born on 6 May 1925 in Dunfermline. He lived in Lundin Links and only moved into a care home when he was in his nineties.