Bill McLaren

For anyone growing up watching international rugby in the UK Bill McLaren was an icon. Everyone knew him and most loved his commentary – even those who normally had little or no interest in rugby.

up watching international rugby in the UK Bill McLaren was an icon. Everyone knew him and most loved his commentary – even those who normally had little or no interest in rugby.

Personally I looked forward to his commentary every bit as much as I looked forward to seeing any great player in action. He was friendly yet authoritative, light-hearted at times but un paralleled in bringing great passages of play to life. Most of all he was the most impartial commentator imaginable. He commented with equal joy on a great try by say Gareth Edwards, Jeremy Guscott or Mike Gibson as he would on a try by Andy Irvine or Gavin Hastings. With Bill you always got the sense he just felt privileged to be in a position yo witness such great players and thats what made people look on him as ‘one of us’.

In addition to making you feel as if you were part of the occasion with his commentary Bill was also an amazing font of knowledge. At a drop of a hat he could tell you a players, height, weight, age, club, international record, hometown, school, shoe size, his mothers favourite Elvis song. As a stato myself his information was like gold and I often find myself listening to other commentators getting facts wrong and think ‘Bill McLaren would never have done that!’

Commentators like Bill, Dan Maskell, Richie Benaud and Peter Alliss epitomised the sport they commentated on. You knew it was 5 nations time when you heard Bill McLaren and you looked forward to it as much for being in Bills company as the rugby itself. similarly summer started with Dan Maskell at Wimbledon and Peter Alliss  at the Open followed by a long, (hopefully) hot summer of Richie Benaud at the cricket. As far as hearing these voices on the BBC Alliss is the last man standing and Bills passing will make me appreciate his commentary even more this summer.

To steal one of Bills most famous phrases – They will be raising a glass to Bill McLaren in the Greenyards tonight – and in many other rugby clubs all over the country.