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William (Bill) McLaren


1923 - 2010

Rugby commentator. Born in Hawick, his father having come to the town to work in the knitwear industry, McLaren played rugby for his home town and for the South of Scotland. His career ended after catching tuberculosis while serving in Italy during World War II. He spent 19 months in the sanatorium at East Fortune in East Lothian and his life was undoubtedly saved by the use of a new drug - streptomycin. It was here he gave his first sports commentary for hospital radio. McLaren went on to train as a Physical Education teacher in Aberdeen, teaching in local primary schools until 1987 as well as coaching his favoured sport. In 1953 McLaren began a second career as a commentator with BBC Scotland. Known for his thorough preparation before matches and encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, he was to become 'the voice of rugby' on BBC radio and television for the next fifty years.

McLaren was honoured with an MBE (1992) and an OBE (1995). In 2000, he received the Royal Television Society Sports Award for outstanding contributions to broadcasting and, in 2001, was the first to be inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame who was not a player for international standing. He finally retired from the BBC in 2002, with his final commentary at the Melrose Sevens, and was awarded a CBE in the 2003 New Year Honours List. His autobiography The Voice of Rugby appeared in 2004.

He died Hawick, the town where he had spent his life, and was buried in Wellogate Cemetery.


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