Final curtain: Ian McGeechan's last appearance for Scotland, v France at Parc des Princes, 17 March 1979

THE newly knighted Sir Ian McGeechan possesses one of the most distinguished careers in the world of rugby.

He began as an outside half for Headingley, before winning his first cap for Scotland against New Zealand at Murrayfield in 1972. McGeechan played 32 times for Scotland, nine as captain, and toured with the British and Irish Lions in 1974 and 1977. These Lions tours would be the beginning of a legacy with the touring side that would extend into his years as a coach.

McGeechan captained the side from inside centre on his last cap for Scotland, against France in Paris, a thrilling encounter which ended in a narrow 21-17 win for the home side, captained by the mighty Jean-Pierre Rives, after a brave performance by the visitors saw them breach the French line three times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Scotland touched down through flanker Gordon Dickson of Gala, full-back Andy Irvine of Heriot's FP, and winger Keith Robertson of Melrose. But the French full-back Jean-Michel Aguirre landed more points with the boot than Irvine. Aguirre sealed victory with four minutes remaining, landing a penalty from beyond the half way line.

At the end of that season's Five Nations, Scotland had lost two (the other defeat coming at Murrayfield to Wales by 13-19) and drawn two (7-7 with England 7-7 at Twickenham, and 11-11 with Ireland in Edinburgh).

After a knee injury ended his playing career in that same year, aged 33, McGeechan continued to teach at schools in Leeds, but in 1987 he was appointed as Scotland's assistant coach under Derrick Grant.

McGeechan took charge of Scotland in 1988 and a year later he rekindled his association with the Lions, coaching the side on their successful tour of Australia.

In 1990 he led the Scots to a Grand Slam in the Five Nations and in his second Rugby World Cup in 1991, led Scotland to the semi-finals where they lost 9-6 to England.

He has occupied a range of coaching roles for club and country, but none of these have had the profile of his work for the Lions with whom, in 1997, he claimed a notable double by steering the touring side to a series victory over South Africa, having achieved the same feat as a player in 1974.