We’re a sentimental bunch at the best of times – us Scots… and a wee bit morose at the worst of times. But there was something apt that Bill McLaren was buried on Burns Day. Especially in light of one of his many memorable and colourful phrases – watch the video, you’ll get it!
We’ve missed Bill McLaren’s rugby commentaries for several years now, but I, for one, will never forget him. His voice introduced me to rugby, as I watched Scotland internationals on TV. In fact, he provided more than commentary on the game, he entertained, enthralled and educated. My love of rugby owes much to this man from Hawick.
As part of his preparation for big matches he prepared ‘big sheets’ crammed with facts about every player. I’ve adopted the concept of ‘big sheets’, but not the format – and that’s an entry for another time and place.
One of the most remarkable things about Bill McLaren’s commentaries was his sense of balance – he didn’t offer his opinions, he didn’t criticise players or officials, he wasn’t (too) partisan; yet he was always passionate and enthusiastic.
He seemed like a thoroughly decent man.
So farewell to the voice of rugby – the privilege was all ours (although I’m sure he’d disagree).