Stewart’s Melville, Scotland and Lions great Dougie Morgan passes away

The former scrum-half and coach was a ferocious competitor for both club and country

Dougie Morgan in 2008. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
Dougie Morgan in 2008. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

FORMER Stewart’s-Melville, Scotland and Lions scrum-half Dougie Morgan – who also coached Stewart’s Melville, Edinburgh and Scotland – has died after an illness. He was 73.

An alumni of Melville College, he was at the heart of the amalgamation between Melville College FP and Stewart’s College FP in 1973, having made his international debut against Wales earlier that year, kicking a conversion to Colin Telfer’s early try which proved the difference in the end as Scotland held on for a first win against that opposition in six years. Morgan’s persistent niggling of Gareth Edwards put the great Welsh maestro off his stride and was crucial to Scotland’s success. Two weeks later, he kicked a last minute drop-goal to secure a 19-15 win over Ireland at Murrayfield.

A fearsome competitor and ferocious trainer, Morgan went on to play 21 times for Scotland (battling against Alan Lawson for the No 9 jersey), and captained the side through his last Five Nations campaign in 1978.


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He toured New Zealand with the 1977 Lions, scoring 98 points on the trip, and coming off the bench in the third Test in Dunedin, then starting in the fourth and final Test in Auckland, when he scored all his team’s points through a try, a penalty and a conversion in a narrow 10-9 defeat.

He was a key component in the great Stewart’s Melville sevens team of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which lifted the Ladies Cup at Melrose in 1979 and the Middlesex Sevens trophy at Twickenham in 1982, as well as claiming several other titles on the Borders circuit and beyond.

He was a chiropodist to trade, based at the Jenners department store on Princes Street – where his father, George, was company secretary for 39 years – and that didn’t stop when he was out the country with rugby, with his wife Doreen (also a chiropodist) filling in while he was on World Cup duty in South Africa in 1995.

Morgan was part of the Scotland coaching panel during the 1990 Grand Slam campaign and at the 1991 World Cup, before taking over as head coach in 1993. His tenure was a bumpy ride and Morgan came in for some vicious criticism during a nine match winless streak, which ran from an 11-28 defeat to Samoa during the 1993 summer tour of the South Pacific through to January 1995 when a new-look Scotland team defeated Canada at Murrayfield. Scotland finished bottom of the table during the 1994 Five Nations but avoided a whitewash thanks to a 6-6 draw against Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

It was a different story in 1995, when Scotland beat Ireland at home (26-13), France away for the first time in 26 years with Gregor Townsend’s famous flip pass sending captain Gavin Hastings on a charge to the line for the game’s decisive try (21-23) and Wales at home (26-13), setting up a Grand Slam decider against England at Twickenham. It wasn’t to be, with England winning that winner-takes-all match 24-12.

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Scotland lost to New Zealand at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup later that year, and at that point Morgan stepped down as coach, but continued his involvement as team manager for the Scotland A and Scotland Sevens sides, before returning to the senior set-up as team manager in 2000. When relinquishing that role in 2003, he pointed out that he had been involved in seven World Cups – five full World Cups and also two seven-a-side World Cups – as a manager or a coach, and stated it was time to devote himself fully to his day job.

Son-in-law Graham Shiel played 18 times for Scotland between 1991 and 2000, while his grandson, Charlie Shiel, is a former Scotland Under-20s cap who is in the process of establishing himself as a key member of Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh squad.

Morgan was also an excellent cricketer and was part of the Melville team which was a major force in the land in the early 1970s, playing alongside the famous international triumvirate of Ronnie Chisholm, Dougie Barr and Eric Thompson. The 154 runs he accumulated in one innings beat Hamish More’s 10 year record of 149 as the highest score by an amateur player in the East Leagues, and is yet to be bettered. He didn’t quite make it into the Scotland team, but was 12th man against the MCC at Lords, taking a very good catch as a stand-in fielder.

He is survived by wife Doreen, his daughters Mandy (married to Graham) and Nicola (married to David), and grandchildren Charlie, Lois, Josh and Nathan.


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1818 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

4 Comments

  1. One of the first players I recall watching. Three great goals crucial in beating Wales in 1975, but I think he also missed a couple of easy ones when we lost at Twickenham later that season, when we really should have had the Triple Crown.

  2. Thanks for that comprehensive tribute, David. I was playing fly half to him when he was first capped.

  3. I played against him at the old charity sevens at Raeburn Place when still at school making my debut in our first seven, in the days when school boys could tilt their lances at British Lions.

    I tilted mine and came up short.

    To this day I recall him taking a 25 yard drop out, which two of us were defending two yards apart.

    He feinted one way throwing my team mate off balance, then my way throwing me off balance, then dropped it between us, picked up and was away, with neither of us laying a finger on him.

    Genius.

    A lesson learned as to why he was a Lion, and in my view underrated.

    RIP.

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