World Rugby Hall of Fame – Induction No.104 – William Pollock McLaren (Hawick) 1923-2010

One of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.

Born: 16 October, 1923 in Hawick, Scotland
Died: 19 January, 2010 in Hawick

Universally loved, Bill McLaren was known as the ‘Voice of Rugby’ throughout his distinguished broadcasting career.

Having seen his dream of playing for Scotland dashed by tuberculosis, McLaren used his extensive knowledge of rugby to entertain and inform BBC viewers for the best part of half a century. His love of the game was infectious and his distinctive Borders brogue helped bring the game to life for armchair fans up and down the country.

The former Hawick flank forward made his BBC debut in 1953, commentating on Scotland’s 12-0 loss to Wales and provided commentary on the same fixture in his last match, nearly 50 years later in 2002.

McLaren was meticulous in his preparation and had a brilliant turn of phrase for every occasion. Players would be honoured to be mentioned in his commentaries, even if they were likened to “a mad octopus, all arms and legs”, as was the case with gangly Irish wing Simon Geoghegan.

Many of his former rugby disciples during his days as a PE teacher in Hawick went on to play for Scotland, as did his son-in-law Alan Lawson and grandson Rory.

Never sensationalist or overly critical, McLaren was a true gentleman who passed away in 2010 at the age of 86.