Obituary: Stan Coughtrie: scrum-half who represented Edinburgh Accies, Scotland and the Lions

Also an accomplished cricketer and successful businessman

Stan Coughtrie kicks past some England players at Twickenham.
Stan Coughtrie kicks past some England players at Twickenham.

Stan Coughtrie

  • Born 19th July 1935, Hamilton
  • Died 25th July 2022, La Vendee, France, aged 87

STAN COUGHTRIE was a renowned Scottish rugby internationalist who earned 11 caps at scrum-half between 1959 and 1963 and also represented the British and Irish Lions on their 1959 tour to Australia and New Zealand. Standing six feet one and a half inches, he was considered the tallest ever to have represented Scotland in that position, usually then filled by players comfortably under six feet. An astute tactician who kicked well for touch and field position as well as place kicks, Coughtrie provided a long accurate pass for his stand-off and could make telling breaks, often using a dummy to good effect. Highly regarded, selectorial inconsistency probably cost him more caps. About the same era the position was contested by him, Tremayne Rodd, Alex Hastie and Brian Shillinglaw, with each enjoying spells in favour.

In club rugby he was a mainstay of a very successful Edinburgh Accies team for almost a decade from 1955 onwards, his contribution alongside fellow internationalist Tom McClung providing the foundation for much of that success. Coughtrie was also a regular for the Edinburgh District side and in 1960 played for a combined Edinburgh/Glasgow team against Paris in the French capital and the touring South Africans at Old Anniesland, a creditable 16-11 defeat.

An accomplished cricketer, he captained Clydesdale to wins in the Western Union Championship while away from the sporting arena he practised as a chartered accountant before later establishing a number of successful sports retail shops.


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Stanley Coughtrie was born in Hamilton to parents John and Diana, a brother of John and Michael. His father established a successful lighting company, J. and G. Coughtrie Ltd. in Glasgow while Stan spent early years in Motherwell where his lifelong attachment to Motherwell F.C. began. Initially he attended Hartree House prep. school in Biggar as a boarder before moving to Edinburgh Academy in 1944, also as a boarder, for the remainder of his education.

He played a full part in school life, was appointed an Ephor [prefect], became a Sergeant in the Combined Cadet Force and shone on the sports field.

At rugby he was an outstanding member of the 1st XV for three years following a winning debut [24-0] in October 1951 against Watson’s College, in which he was reported to “have worked the blind side well.” In 1953, his final year, the ‘Chronicle’ school magazine praised his “first class service” and described him as “undoubtedly one of the best scrum halves in Scottish schools”.

On the cricket square, as vice captain, he was an excellent all rounder for the 1st XI, a high scoring batsman including a memorable 128 against the Academicals in 1953, in addition to being an effective spin bowler and fielder. He appeared to be no slouch at golf either, trouncing his teacher opponents in successive years in the Boys v Masters match!

National Service beckoned in the Royal Artillery, initially at Woolwich before spending 18 months in Hong Kong where he represented the regiment in rugby and cricket. Once demobbed he began a chartered accountant’s apprenticeship in Glasgow with the firm Thomson, McLintock C.A., and began playing for Edinburgh Accies, travelling through from the west for training and matches by train, tram and bus, having being persuaded to do so by club secretary Jim Stevenson. Fortuitously Tom McClung began playing for Accies at the same time, providing added quality to the backs.

In 1955-56, his first season, Accies won the unofficial Club Championship, in no small measure due to Coughtrie’s contribution whose “all round brilliance” according to a later edition of The Chronicle was fundamental to their sustained success from the mid 50s onwards. The following season Accies shared the title with Jed-Forest and were runners up three years consecutively, 1959 to 1962.

Unsurprisingly, Coughtrie’s excellent form attracted selectors leading to representing Edinburgh District and playing national trials. Following a spell as Scotland reserve, he made his international debut against France in Paris in January 1959, the Glasgow Herald report commending him for “splendid covering, kicking and tackling” while his second cap, against Wales, earned him the accolade of “man of the match, his covering and kicking was immense” in the London Daily News report.

After only four internationals, he was selected for the 1959 Lions tour. Unfortunately he was only fit to play in two matches in Australia, against Queensland and a New South Wales Country XV, both won by the Lions but at considerable cost to Stan. Having injured his back in the first game he aggravated it badly in the second game, rendering him unfit for the rest of the tour. Although he travelled to New Zealand with the party, he retuned home at his own request, bringing a premature and disappointing end to his trip but one that provided some good memories.

He was not selected for Scotland again until February 1962 versus Wales, when his shrewd kicking helped Scotland to their first win in Cardiff since 1927. Six consecutive caps followed, his final one against England at Twickenham in 1963, when Richard Sharp’s famous try ensured the English victory and denied Scotland a Triple Crown.

Years later a clip of that score appeared in the opening sequence of a TV sports quiz programme, showing Stan the last defender between Sharp and the tryline. To his credit he used to joke that he watched the clip optimistically each week in the hope that one evening it would show him successfully tackling Sharp!

 

Shortly after, he retired from club rugby to concentrate on cricket, playing for Clydesdale whom he captained twice to the Western District Union Championship, in 1966 and 1971, a notable achievement. According to teammate John Baxter:”Stan was a good batsman but excelled as a leader of men. He had the knack of dealing with people in the right way, had a lovely sense of humour and had the whole team wanting to do well for him.”

In 1960 he married his first wife Catriona in Pollokshields. The couple had three children, Linda, Keith and Claire, and set up home in Glasgow where he had been recruited by accountancy firm, Stenhouse. In 1966 the family spent a year in South Africa due to Stan being posted there on business and although the marriage later ended in divorce, relationships continued to be very cordial.

After South Africa he became involved in the sports shop business, operating as Stan Coughtrie [Sports] Ltd. His first was in Paisley Road West, Glasgow, followed by others in East Kilbride, Livingston, Cumbernauld and Pitlochry, which through hard work he built into a successful enterprise.

In 1978 in Edinburgh he married Moray with whom he happily remained, initially living in Kinross before moving to France in retirement about 25 years ago, settling in a small rural town, Le Poire sur Vie, in the Vendee which both knew through friends.

Stan very much enjoyed the French way of life, entertaining guests with good food and wine, speaking the language, making friends locally and playing golf. Latterly he relished return trips to Scotland, reconnecting with old friends and playing in golf outings.

A much loved family man, Stan was a kind, warm, supportive individual interested in others, who once people met him always remembered him. While very competitive he remained understated about his sporting achievements, possibly not fully appreciating the extent of his own abilities.

He is survived by his wife, children, step children Peter and Julie, and grandchildren Calum, Hannah, Louis and Rosie.

JACK DAVIDSON


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About Jack Davidson 10 Articles
Jack is a retired lawyer/QC from Edinburgh with a passion for sports history. He has contributed obituaries and historically themed sports articles to various publications, including: The Scotsman, The Herald and Nutmeg Magazine.

2 Comments

  1. for Jack Davidson. Jack hello. Growing up beside Titwood I saw Stan Coughtrie in the old Western Union. Moving on, do you have anything on Thomas Arthur Nelson? (1876 – 1917, Edinburgh Accies, Oxford and Scotland) My home email is coruisk@hotmail.co.uk. I can give you more details of my interest. Many Thanks. Ian.

  2. Thank you for an illuminating obit of Mr. Coughtrie, an all rounder by all accounts, condolences to his families.

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