The legendary former Scotland international and coach is one of six new inductees. The others are Will Carling (England), Osea Kolinisau (Fiji), Humphrey Kayange (Kenya), Huriana Manuel-Carpenter (New Zealand) and Cheryl McAfee (Australia).
A statement from the game’s governing body said: “The World Rugby Hall of Fame presented by Tudor recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby throughout their careers, demonstrating rugby’s character-building values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect on and off the field.
“The six inductees excel within two themes selected by the Hall of Fame panel for 2021, rugby sevens and the Olympic Games in a big Olympic year, and the 150th anniversary of the first international match between Scotland and England in March 1871.”
Telfer and Carling fall into the latter category although it is somewhat surprising that the former Melrose back row forward was not already in the Hall of Fame given the scale of his achievements.
The 81-year-old won 25 caps for Scotland, 10 as captain, and made eight Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions, on two tours, in 1966 and 1968, before becoming one of the most revered coaches in the game.
Telfer holds the distinction of being the only Scotland international to have played New Zealand, South Africa and Australia without losing.
He coached the Lions on their 1983 tour to New Zealand, Scotland to the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1984 and, as assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan, to a second Grand Slam in 1990. After a break from coaching, Telfer was invited by McGeechan to become forwards coach on the triumphant Lions tour of South Africa in 1997.
He returned to coach Scotland and, with the assistance of John Rutherford and Hugh Campbell, led the side to the last-ever Five Nations title in 1999, with current Scotland coach Gregor Townsend scoring a try in each game.
These six inductees will bring the number in the Hall of Fame to 154 since inception in 2006.
World Rugby Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee No.94 Sir Bill Beaumont said: “On behalf of World Rugby, I would like to congratulate our six Hall of Fame inductees, who did not just make their mark on the field of play, but who has played a significant role in advancing the sport.”
John Eales, the former Australian international who is chairman of the Hall of Fame panel and was the sixth inductee, said: “The 2021 inductees for the World Rugby Hall of Fame are representative of all that is good in our game. Each of them have been outstanding players in either sevens or 15s and they have also been important contributors to rugby, in their own countries and globally, off the field.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame selection panel comprises Eales, secretary David Hands (England), Henri Garcia (France), Pablo Mamone (Argentina), Rob Cole (Wales), Anna Richards (New Zealand) and Wayne Smith (Australia).