Thousands pay tribute to McLaren
March 12, 2010
Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings speaks during the tribute at Murrayfield © PA Photos
Rugby greats from past and present gathered at Murrayfield last night to remember veteran commentator Bill McLaren.
McLaren, from Hawick in the Borders, was known as the "voice of rugby" and died peacefully on January 19, aged 86. The event at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh tonight featured Scotland's cap centurion Chris Paterson and Wales legend Gerald Davies, among others.
Big screens displayed specially-created match footage accompanied by some of the broadcaster's most evocative commentary had been set up for the event. McLaren's wife Bette was also in the crowd.
BBC presenter Dougie Donnelly hosted the evening and welcomed tributes from former British and Irish Lions captains Gavin Hastings and Bill Beaumont.
Beaumont told the crowd, "As a player he always made me feel special. Bill was universally loved by everybody. Bill McLaren represented everything that was good in the game of rugby and to me he was the voice of rugby."
Ireland and Lions rugby legend Mike Gibson said McLaren had an "encyclopaedic knowledge of rugby and a highly developed instinct of the game. He was an exceptional wordsmith."
Andy Irvine, former Scotland and British and Irish Lions fullback, said McLaren was a "character" and had a "unique understanding of the game". He said he went for meals with McLaren and he would "hold court". Irvine said, "He would tell us about the great matches, the great teams. The great players in the 50s and 60s. I could have listened to him for hours and hours."
Scotland rugby star Rory Lawson passed on the thanks of McLaren's family and said since January 19 tributes had poured in from across the world. The gates at Murrayfield opened from 5pm for the two hour event. Free commemorative programmes were available and musical accompaniment was provided by a Morriston Orpheus, a Welsh male voice choir and the Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band.
Dominic McKay, director of communications and public affairs for Scottish Rugby, said after the event: "It was a privilege for Scottish Rugby to host a wonderful tribute to the late, great Bill McLaren. The tributes from some of rugby's greats were much appreciated by the rugby community. More than 4,000 people were at Murrayfield tonight."