| 17.2°C Belfast

Legendary ‘voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren dies aged 86

Tributes have been paid to the “voice of rugby” Bill McLaren, who has died at the age of 86.

The legendary commentator, who retired in 2002 after almost 50 years as a broadcaster, died in hospital yesterday morning.

He received an OBE, CBE and MBE for services to the sport and combined his work as a broadcaster with that of a PE teacher until 1987.

There was also an Internet campaign last year to give McLaren, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, a knighthood for his work.

Scotland rugby legend Gavin Hastings, who worked alongside McLaren in the commentary box, led the tributes.

He said: “First and foremost, Bill was a very proud and passionate Scot but such was his professionalism that you would never really have known that.

“He always remained very unbiased in his commentary and I think that that was unquestionably one of his endearing qualities. He was just such a gentleman as well. He was known as the ‘voice of rugby' and that probably will be his legacy.”

In November 2001, McLaren became the first non-international to be inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

He was awarded his MBE in 1992, an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in the 2003 honours list.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: “The world of sport and broadcasting has lost a true legend with Bill’s passing.

“He thoroughly deserved the title ‘voice of rugby' and was a fantastic ambassador for Scotland.”

Belfast Telegraph