McGeechan gets a birthday honour

By Barry Newcombe
Ian McGeechan, the Scot who has a significant hand in the life of the British and Irish Lions since 1974 both as player and coach, has been inducted into the International Rugby Board hall of fame.

Rugby writers from across Europe were at Rugby School for the induction ceremony, when 10 former players were honoured.

McGeechan, who is 63 tomorrow (Oct 30), played a total of 29 matches for the Lions in two tours, the first to South Africa in 1974 and the second to New Zealand in 1977.

In 1989, McGeechan renewed his association with the Lions as coach on the tour to Australia. He was head coach in New Zealand in 1993 and again in South Africa in 1997 when the Lions won the Test series. He was with the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 and again head coach in South Africa this year when the Tests were lost narrowly, 2-1. He has already been approached about his availability in 2013.

The latest inductions to the IRB Hall of Fame had a distinct Lions’ flavour, with Cliff Morgan, of Wales, and Tony O’Reilly, of Ireland, who were both on the 1955 tour of South Africa, being honoured along with the two Ulstermen, Willie John McBride, who played on three tours and led the unbeaten mission to South Africa in 1974, and Syd Millar, who played on three tours and also coached them.

The other inductees were Bill Maclagan, of Scotland, and Bennie Osler, Barry Heatlie and Frik du Preez of South Africa.

Gerald Davies, of Wales, who managed this year’s Lions tour to South Africa, said: “The Lions represent the last of the rugby adventurers. Ask any player who has been on a Lions tour, his views are expressed with reverence as a treasured moment.

“Those who have not been wish they had or are given another chance that they will go next time.”

Davies also cautioned about taking “great care” of how the game is played and said there is “much play off the ball”. He also queried whether rugby was becoming “overtly violent”, citing the second Test in South Africa in June “which was described as ‘brutal’ as if this was a compliment”.

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