The Offside Line’s End of Year Awards for 2023

A runaway winner in the public poll for 'Game of the Year' is revealed

Hamish Watson consoles WP Nel after Scotland's World Cup campaign ended with a loss to Ireland at Stade de France. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Hamish Watson consoles WP Nel after Scotland's World Cup campaign ended with a loss to Ireland at Stade de France. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Game of the Year 

Glasgow Accies 53 Falkirk 15

with 43.46 percent of the vote

Nominated by Max Hutcheon on behalf of Glasgow Accies

Glasgow Accies' dramatic win over Falkirk to clinch the National League Two title prompted jubilant scenes at New Anniesland. Image: Gordon Honeyman
Glasgow Accies’ dramatic win over Falkirk to clinch the National League Two title prompted jubilant scenes at New Anniesland. Image: Gordon Honeyman

 

The judges said:

Those experiencing slow internet in the West End of Glasgow during the last week can be assured that normal service will now resume, with the mass mobilisation of Glasgow Accies fans to send electronic votes in support of their club’s remarkable National Two championship-clinching victory over Falkirk last April having achieved its aim.

Congratulations to the runaway – and richly deserving – winners of The Offside Line’s 2023 Game of the Year Award!

 


The Ally McLeod Golden Goblet For Wild Pre-World Cup Hype 

JOHN JEFFREY

John Jeffrey during Scotland Rugby team World Cup capping and welcome ceremony at Ville de Nice in September.Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
John Jeffrey during Scotland Rugby team World Cup capping and welcome ceremony at Ville de Nice in September.
Image: © Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk

The judges said:

Speaking during Scotland’s official World Cup welcome at the opulent Musée Masséna in the heart of the French Riviera, former Grand Slam hero John Jeffrey clearly wanted to nail his colours to the mast in his first public appearance since leaving his post as Scottish Rugby Chair in a hurry (and under a cloud) five months earlier.

“At this stage I’ll take my World Rugby hat off, if I’m allowed to,” said Jeffrey – who was the sole nomination to replace the disgraced Bernard Laporte as Vice Chair of World Rugby in April – in a direct address to the players.

“What you’ve done over the last two years has been fantastic. You’ve embraced everything that is great about our heritage, about Scotland. The way you play your game is exciting, it’s attractive and it’s also successful.

“Not only do players and fans in Scotland support you, but fans round the world do. When you go to Sevens tournaments, Fiji are always everybody’s second favourite team. At fifteens now Scotland are that, purely and simply because of the brand of rugby they play.

“So, congratulations for what you’ve done on the pitch and off the pitch, you’ve set the benchmark.

“I know, because I’ve been there myself and failed,” added Jeffrey, who was in the Scotland sides which reached the quarter-final of 1987 World Cup and semi-final of the 1991 tournament. “And I’ve spoken to former players, and this is without doubt the best ever Scotland team to take the field.”

It was pretty strong stuff which set the tone for Scotland’s campaign – with plenty of self affirmation but not much substance to back it up. 

Perhaps Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony best summed up how Scotland’s self-hype came across with those not wearing tartan-tinted spectacles when he said after his team delivered the knock-out blow to Scotland’s World Cup campaign.

“They were in the press beforehand saying they were going to knock us off and end our streak, how they figured us out and worked us out,” he pointedly stated.  “I don’t think they did, to be honest with you.”


Scotland Men Try of the Year

DUHAN VAN DER MERWE

(versus England)

The judges said:

Not really much debate on this one. It was a try for the ages delivered on the day Scotland Men managed their best result of the year. Was also voted World Rugby’s ‘International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year’ in October.


The Lazarus of Bethany Award for Comeback of the Year –

HUW JONES

Huw Jones celebrates his try for Scotland in February's Calcutta Cup win over England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Huw Jones celebrates his try for Scotland in February’s Calcutta Cup win over England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk

The judges said:

This time last year, Jones had just returned from a back injury which had kept him out of action for the first half of Glasgow Warriors’ season following his return north from a year playing with Harlequins. He hadn’t played for Scotland for almost two years, having previously missed out on the 2019 World Cup, which was a remarkable omission given the chutzpah he had shown at the start of his international career when he scored 10 tries in 14 Tests between the summer of 2016 and the 2018 Six Nations, including a breath-taking double in the team’s first win over England in 11 years at Murrayfield in March 2018.

A combination of injury, concerns about his defence and a lack of love from previous Warriors head coach Dave Rennie led to a dip in confidence and form, while the emergence of Chris Harris as a defensive bulwark at outside-centre also contributed to Jones finding himself pushed to the international periphery.

After that slow start, it became apparent that Glasgow Warriors under Franco Smith was exactly where he needed to be. His – Huwipulotu – midfield partnership with Sione Tuipulotu was soon being replicated at international level, and the pair ended up being Scotland’s only two representatives in the fan voted 2023 Six Nations Team of the Championship, with Jones reprising memories of the early part of his career whe scoring four tries in five matches during the championship.

Honourable mention to Greg Peterson following his second coming at Glasgow Warriors.”


Scotland Women Try of the Year 

FRANCESCA MCGHIE

(versus Ireland)

The judges said:

This sensational finish was the highlight in a brilliant debut season for McGhie, who was nominated  for ‘World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year’ award. A player of rare ability who has been instrumental in the turnaround in fortunes for the women’s national team.


The Ali G Prize for Cultural Awareness and Diplomatic Relations –

JAMIE RITCHIE

The judges said:

At a press conference hosted at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport immediately after the national squad had touched down in France for the start of their World Cup campaign, the Scotland captain was asked about what he was looking forward to culturally in that idyllic corner of the continent.

“I love French food. I’m quite into my food, I must admit,” he told the local reporter, who was extremely excited by this and immediately put Ritchie on the spot by asking what particular dishes stand out.

“At home it is called French onion soup … but I guess it is just onion soup here,” was Ritchie’s less than sure-footed response.


Scotland Men Under-20s Try of the Year 

RUDI BROWN

(vesus England)

The judges said:

Rampaging runs from Jonny Morris and consistent stand-out performer Rudi Brown (before he was deemed surplus to requirements north of the border and left these shores to play in France) created this try in a heroic fightback which saw Scotland claw their way from 21 points down with half an hour played to eventually take the lead with around 15 minutes left, before eventually running out of steam and having to settle with creditable 41-36 defeat at Twickenham Stoop.

“There is no shame in this final score-line, but what a story it would have been if they had hung on for their first win in 15 outings,” said TOL’s match report at the time.


The Lord Lucan Award for Disappearing Without a Trace 

DAVE CHERRY

The judges said:

During the week leading up to Scotland’s World Cup opener against South Africa, the Edinburgh hooker spoke from the heart about his long journey through lower league rugby in Scotland, England and France to finally reach the zenith of the game by being selected in Gregor Townsend’s World Cup squad. He told us he was even ready to miss the birth of his first child to stay with the squad throughout the campaign.

Just a few days later, the 32-year-old was gone following a mysterious fall on the stairs at the team hotel on the night after Scotland’s defeat to the Springboks. Townsend stressed that it was all down to the concussion Cherry had suffered [Scotland couldn’t afford to have both Cherry and fellow hooker Ewan Ashman going through HIA protocols at the same time] and insisted that there was no disciplinary element in the player being sent home.

Whatever really happened, Cherry was able to attend the birth of his first born and Edinburgh ‘senior’ coach Sean Everitt said before the start of the season that he expects to see the hooker back competing for a Scotland place in the Six Nations.


Breakthrough Player of the Year –

ALLY MILLER

The judges said:

The athletic back-rower has finished the calendar year in fine form, largely helped by injuries to the likes of Jack Dempsey, Matt Fagerson and Sione Vailanu giving him his first proper run of games in the Glasgow Warriors team since his move west in the summer of 2021 (following an equally frustrating four seasons at Edinburgh).

The fact that we have selected 27-year-old who had already been in the pro game for eight years (and was identified as a player of rare potential way back during his under-20s days) says something about Miller’s resilience, but also raises some troubling questions (again) about Scottish Rugby’s player development strategies.

A number of homegrown talents have had some game-time for the pro teams this year – including 22-year-olds Harry Patterson and Cam Scott at Edinburgh, as well as Ben Afshar (20), Alex Samuel and Max Williamson (both 21) at Glasgow Warriors – but have not had enough exposure to be regarded as breakthrough successes.

This is particularly concerning given that it is a World Cup year, when young players have traditionally been given a chance to make their name. Perhaps it is an inevitable consequence of Scottish Rugby policy of packing the pro squads with ready-made journeymen and calling it ‘strategic investment’?


Glasgow Warriors Try of the Year –

SEBASTIAN CANCELLIERE

(versus Stormers)

Judges said:

A powerful burst in the middle of the park from Jack Dempsey, a delicious toe-poke into the corner from Sione Tuipulotu and an ice-cool finish from Cancelliere in the 78th minute clinched an excellent win for Warriors against one of the South African powerhouses back in January. What’s not to like?


The Garry Kasparov Cup for Making the Right Move at the Right Time –

ALI PRICE

The judges said:

Having Ali Price, George Horne and Jamie Dobie all at Glasgow at the same time made no sense, so moving one of them to Edinburgh was a smart move from a Scotland perspective. Sod’s law dictated that Dobie would suffer a long term injury straight after Price headed east, and there were calls to bring the prodigal son home there and then.

But the logic of the move had not changed. Price is flourishing again with more game-time playing for a team set-up to suit his more measured approach, and Glasgow have been able to give youngster Ben Afshar minutes on the pitch which he would almost certainly not have seen if he had remained fifth in the No 9 pecking order behind Horne, Price, Dobie and Sean Kennedy.

Everyone is a winner … except the unfortunate Dobie, who would surely have been a big contender for game time during the upcoming Six Nations.


The King Charles ‘Better Late Than Never’ Award –

SCOTLAND’S RETROSPECTIVELY CAPPED STARS

The judges said:

News in August that retrospective full Scotland caps were being awarded to 56 former players who represented their country in matches that, at the time, did not carry Test cap status was widely celebrated as an excellent move. 18 more new caps were identified in October. Congratulations to those who have belatedly had their exploits in the dark blue jersey properly recognised.


Edinburgh Try of the Year –

HENRY IMMELMAN

(versus Sharks)

The judges said:

A marvellous length-of-the-field effort back in January. This was Edinburgh at their best in a season when they struggled to manage the ebb and flow of games.


The ChatGPT Award For Forgetting That Technology Doesn’t Alway Make Things Better  –

WORLD RUGBY AND THEIR BLASTED BUNKER  *

* Nominated by Alan Lorimer

The judges said:

Let’s recall the World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand on a wet night in Paris. The All Blacks had shown that the running game is still alive in the top echelons of World Rugby but the question was: could they do anything against a Springbok team intent of bulldozing their way to victory.

Despite conditions not conducive to a fast handling game the ABs produced a slick backs move that produced arguably the best ‘try’ of the tournament. All seemed to be fine until the eagle-eyed TMO and his team in the so-called ‘bunker’ spotted a hint of a knock-on in the line-out that had preceded the touchdown.

Now the infringement in question occurred at a very messy line-out and was detected only by the use of sophisticated devices capable of analysing the action in minute detail. Had this array of spy equipment not been available the try would have stood and probably lauded as one of the best of the tournament, and who knows might have led to New Zealand being crowned World Champions and not the Boks.


Super Series Try of the Year –

MASON CULLEN

(for Boroughmuir Bears versus Watsonians in the Sprint)

The judges said:

He just keeps going and going and going …


The Michelle Mone Award for Cosmetic Accounting –

HILARY SPENCE

The judges said:

It was a bold move from the SRU CFO to try to camouflage £8.3m worth of losses in the Scottish Rugby Union’s 2023 accounts by describing ‘Operating Costs’ as ‘Investments’.


Women’s Club Rugby Try of the Year –

NICOLE FLYNN

(for Stirling County versus Corstorphine Cougars)

The judges said:

This was the first of  two tries by Nicole Flynn, who was 17 at the time, to put Stirling County ahead for the first time in the 35th minute of the 2022-23 women’s Premiership Final. It was set up well by fellow youngsters Ceitidh Ainsworth and Lucy MacRae, and winger Flynn showed good pace to finish. County won the game 27-8.


The Boris Johnson Book Voucher For Refusal To Take Responsibility –

MARK DODSON

The judges said:

After new Scottish Rugby Chair John McGuigan’s heartfelt and moving apology to the Cattigan family at the SRU AGM in mid-August, the gig was up on Murrayfield’s ridiculous strategy of burying head in sand and hoping that the issue would go away without any need to show genuine human compassion.

It should have been a chastising moment for Scottish Rugby’s bombastic Chef Executive, but in the post AGM press briefing he still could not bring himself to concede the issue

“I said at the time, we were looking at the fact-finding activity, we wanted to find out the facts, we didn’t know the facts at the time,” he claimed, dancing on the head of a pin. “We now do know the facts and we now know what happened and understood where we were and John was approached by a third party to have that conversation with the Cattigans and once we understood the facts and were comfortable with what was in there and with what we believed happened, it was then appropriate for John to meet the family and John has issued a long apology today based on the things he heard and felt necessary to say.

“But I think you know as well as we do, once that legal action is intimated there’s a limit to what we can actually do, and I said that at the time.

“Even from a human perspective, we’re limited with what we can say – we now understand, we know the facts and we’re comfortable with the facts and the approach has been made to John and John has followed through on behalf of the board.”

Eventually, McGuigan was asked to intervene. His response when he was asked if it was the findings of the still unpublished ‘fact-finding exercise’ – apparently costing £150,000 – which had prompted his interaction with the Cattigans.

“I’m the Chair of SRL and from my perspective, an international player died in tragic circumstances, and we should go and speak to their parents,” he replied.

“And I think that in the apology I read out earlier, we actually say, we should have gone and seen the family earlier. We say that, that is part of the apology. 

“We should have gone and met the family earlier” he reiterated. “And how difficult that may have been, who knows? But we should have still done that.”


Men’s Premiership Try of the Year –

ARCHIE BARBOUR

(for Kelso versus Selkirk)

The judges said:

Kelso have been a breath of fresh air since earning promotion back into the top flight of the men’s club game for the first time in 23 years, and this effort by flying full-back Archie Barbour epitomises their have-a-go attitude.


Team of the Year –

HAWICK

Hawick celebrate their 2022-23 Premiership title success.Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Hawick celebrate their 2022-23 Premiership title success. Image: © Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk

The judges said:

There was a case for Scotland Women team receiving this award after they shrugged off a 12-match losing run by beating Italy in the Six Nations to embark on an equal best ever six-match winning streak which took in victories over Ireland the following week and success at the WXV2 tournament in South Africa in October.

Stirling Wolves also made a strong case for the award for a remarkable turnaround in fortunes after finishing dead last in the 2022 Super Series Championship to win this year’s competition, sneaking into the play-offs then securing stunning wins over Heriot’s then Ayrshire Bulls in one-off matches to claim the silverware.

But Hawick’s remarkable consistency in claiming the Premiership and Cup double last season, with that form carried in into this season (bouncing back from a first defeat in 18 months away to Marr in September to regain a strangle-hold of the top of the table), means they have to get the nod.


A Big Shout Out To –

BORDERS RUGBY TV

The judges said: 

Thanks to Stuart Cameron for pulling together all the Try Of The Year videos. It is much appreciated by the TOL team.


The game they play in heaven * –

The Scottish rugby community was jolted out of its New Year recuperation period with the passing of Biggar Rugby Club stalwart, DR DOUG WARD CBE, on 6th January.A former club president, Doug played a huge role in Biggar’s rise, while he served the wider Scottish game with a four-year spell on the SRU Council, as a National League representative, between 2013 and 2017. In private life, Doug was one of the leading experts on biodiesel.

KEN SCOTLAND passed away on 7 January, following a fight against cancer. One of the greatest players ever, with Heriot’s and several other clubs during a peripatetic business career, an outstanding British Lion in 1959 and a one-time Scotland captain, his passing was a terrible loss.

JOHN COLTMAN, a weel-kent member of the Hawick rugby family, and a life member of the Mansfield Park club, died on 10th January. John never wore the green jersey, but gave many hours of time to the club as a volunteer. A painter to trade, he used his talents to help keep Mansfield Park looking pristine.

JOE DICKSON was a respected member of Gala YM, who died on Saturday 14th January. Joe had captained the team in 1960-61 and his subsequent service as fixture secretary and long-serving committee member was recognised when YM gave him honorary life membership, and named a lounge in their clubhouse in his honour.

BILL RELPH was a back-row forward, who won four caps out of Stewart’s College FP in the 1955 Five Nations, and, as such was a member of the Scottish team which beat Wales 14-8 at Murrayfield that season – “Arthur Smith’s Match” – ending the terrible run of 17 straight defeats. He captain of his club in 1957-58, when they won the unofficial championship, and also a member of the Colleges septet which won at Melrose in 1956. He died on 20th January at the grand old age of 94.

Langholm lost club stalwart BRYAN RAE on 2nd February. Bryan gave over 40 years of service at Milntown, many of those as club treasurer. He also ran the ‘200 Club; for many years and was still a committee and life member at the time of his passing.

DOUGIE WILLIAMS – a stalwart of Howe of Fife, as a former first team captain, long-serving committee man and general man about Duffus Park – passed away on 26th March.

Big STEWART HAMILTON, a stalwart of Stirling County and Glasgow, and a lock very unlucky to never get a full cap, passed away on 30th March. A Larkhall man, he was allegedly dropped from Scotland duty, after choosing “The Sash My Father Wore” as his solo number at a team social evening.

GRAHAM MCKEE– a solid prop with GHK and Glasgow – also passed away that day.

GORDON MASSON – a life-long Gordonian and President of the SRU in 1992 – died on 1st April. A scrum-half with his club, he had a long career in rugby administration on the SRU committee. He was Team Manager on the Scotland XVs North American Tour of 1985.

DAVE McDONALD – former President of Aberdeen Grammar Rugby and of the Scottish and European Golden Oldies – died on 15th April. Dave was an all-round sports freak, as well as his considerable involvement in rugby, both in the Granite City and on Shetland, he had an interest in American Football. Not even a below the knee amputation could stop him playing in Golden Oldies Rugby. Dave was 74 when he died.

The death of RAY MEGSON – the well-known former international referee and SRU General Committee member  death – was announced on 2nd May. As a player with Edinburgh Wanderers, as a centre or winger, he played for Edinburgh District. Born in Sheffield and raised in Australia, he had also played for Wigtownshire. In private life he was a lawyer, one of the first solicitor-advocates. He was 77.

JOHN ROXBURGH – who was an influential stand-off in Jordanhill College’s Unofficial Championship-winning team of 1969, who was a Glasgow District ten and later a coach to the District – died on 21st May after a short illness.

Rocky’s major legacy in Scottish Rugby was his pioneering work as the SRU’s first Director of Coaching, where he introduced coach education. After retiring from the governing body, he was a key figure in the rise of Glasgow Hawks, as the club’s first coach and later Director of Rugby. He leaves a strong legacy in that club’s commitment to giving young players the chance to shine at the top club level. He carried on the work of his mentor, Bill Dickinson, and was, if anything a more-influential figure than even Bill.

RONNIE LAMB – a Merchistonian, triple Oxford Blue and Captain of Oxford in the 1964 Varsity Match, and a man who gave service at stand-off to Edinburgh Wanderers and London Scottish – passed away on 12th June. He never won a full Scotland cap, but did play in the old Final Trials of those days.

The death, aged 88, of NORRIE BRYSON – Honorary Vice President of Boroughmuir –  was announced on 20th June. In a lifetime associated with the club, Norrie was a player, committee manager, secretary, President, team manager, sponsorship finder, fund-raiser. You name it, Norrie did it for the club!

Just three days later, ‘Muir were jolted again, with the death of life member and former club director ALBERT FAGAN, who was 79. Albert was best-known around Meggetland for his work as Sales and Social Director. His great sense of fun made him a highly-popular figure in this role and helped him win the Clubman of the Year title in 2007.

JIMMY NEWTON passed away on 24th June, aged 76, after a long battle with Dementia.  A prop forward stalwart with Kelso in the 1970s and early 1980s, he contributed to successes for both the 1st and 2nd Xvs at Poynder Park and also figured in some successful Kelso Sevens squads, such as the Melrose-winning squad of 1978.

The death of the former Hawick and Scotland scrum-half GREIG OLIVER was announced on Monday 3rd July. Greig had settled in Ireland where, after working as a coach for Garryowen and Munster A, he was an elite performance coach with the IRFU.

Greig died following a paragliding accident in South Africa, where he was supporting his son, Jack, a scrum-half like his dad represent Ireland Under-20s at the Junior World Cup.

ALEX DILLON was a former player with Cumnock and Kilmarnock, where he also coached for many years. Alex’s death was announced on 4th July.

NORRIE McINTOSH was a former player and coach, and one of the pillars of their highly-successful mini-rugby section at Stirling Count. His passing, aged 64, was announced on 8th July.

CHARLIE HODGSON – a former Glasgow High School FP player and for many years a stalwart of London Scottish, whom he captained and for whom he was one of the stars of their great sevens squads of the 1960s – passed away at the end of the month, aged 85. Hodgson was twice-capped as a winger in 1968 – against Ireland and England. His business career later took him to the United States.

ANGUS MACKAY was a fixture around Millbrae for many years. As a player he mainly played for and captained the Ayr 2nd XV, it was his misfortune to be a contemporary of Jock Craig and Johnny Burston, however, he never let the first team down when called upon.

His real legacy at the club, however, came in his long service on the committee, where he was House and Ground Convener, Administration Secretary and for many years he was in charge of the International Ticket allocation. He enjoyed a spell as President from 2001-2004. As a BT telecommunications engineer, he was at the sharp end when BT sponsored Scottish Rugby and, even in retirement from the day job, he was around Millbrae, where he was a key component in the club’s rise to the forefront of the club game in Scotland.

It was then Kilmarnock’s turn to mourn the passing of a great character with the death of BIG BILLY ADAMS, a stalwart of the club’s pack for several seasons. The sadness at Billy’s passing was shared in Elgin, where he died. After moving north, he gave the same level of commitment to Moray RFC as he had given at Bellsland.

The sudden death of Currie Chieftains prop GRANT WILLIAMSON – known to all as “Scaley” – was announced on 17th August. Grant was only 30 when he died, his sudden death shocking everyone at Malleny Park, where he was one of the most-popular figures, not least through his efforts as the driving force behind the annual ‘Movember’ moustache-growing charity efforts.

Hawick Linden announced the deah of former player CONNOR TOFTS on 24th August. Having made his debut as a teenager, Connor was limited to a mere 45 appearances over four seasons before being forced to quit after a cancer diagnosis. He fought the disease bravely but passed away at just 27.

STEWART STOBIE – a founder member and long-serving captain of Cumnock RFC – died on 4th September, aged 89. In his later playing career he re-located to Ayr and played for their A2 Veterans XV, converting from hooker to stand-off, taking over kicking duties to amass 1097 points during the 1974-5 season. His sons, Peter and Kenneth, followed in his footsteps, playing for both Ayr and Cumnock, Peter as a stand-off, Kenny as a hooker.

Gala RFC announced the death of former Club President JIM GILCHRIST on 6th September. In the press release they explained: “Jim was an officer and a boy in the 3rd Galashiels Boy’s Brigade at St Peter’s Church and played his rugby for Gala Wanderers and Gala 2nds.

“He was instrumental in forming the Gala Rugby Football Supporters Club in the 80s and then along with the late Donald Fairgrieve and Jim Riddell in the September of 1996 setting up the ever popular Friday Lunches.

“Jim had the honour of becoming the Gala Rugby Football Club President from 1995 to 1997 and being President of the Border League at the same time both of which he carried out with great distinction. Jim was also elected a Life Member of the Club.

“Our condolences go out to his wife Mary family David, Derek and Carol at this sad time.”

The death of 18-year-old ALAN CRUICKSHANKS was announced on the SRU website on 12th September. A member of the SRU’s Youth Panel, Alan had started playing at Paisley RFC, before serving Bishopton and Garnock in youth rugby. While health issues forced him to stop playing, they did not dampen his enthusiasm for the game. He qualified as a referee, aged just 15, before adding club administration to his portfolio of skills, as an hard-working and admired member of the Youth Panel.

Ayr RFC lost one of their oldest members on Wednesday, 13th September, with the death of TOM WILSON, who was 93. A dynamic hooker, all ten stones of him, for the club in his youth, Tom later gave great service as a committee-member. The day job was as an English and History teacher. His final teaching post was as Head of History at Cumnock Academy where he was also an inspiring rugby coach.

Melrose lost a stalwart on 14 September, with the passing of JIMMY DOYLE – a weel-kent face around The Greenyards; he was 83. Over his many years associated with the club Jimmy filled many roles ranging from  steward, team manager, Club President and ultra-enthusiastic supporter of Sevens Rugby.

WILLIE MILLER was a long-time member of Stirling County. He captained the club from 1958 to 1960 and was President of the club from 1977 till 1979. He passed away on 25th September.

Kilmarnock Rugby Club announced the death of RICHARD ‘DOC’ MILLS, one of their longest-serving and best-known members, on 1st October.

Former Melrose President JACK DUN died on 11th October, a few weeks shy of his 98th birthday. A life-long Melrose member, he was also well-known across Scotland as a referee.

He was a fixture at the Melrose Sevens. He first attended in 1934 and from then on he only ever missed two, the sports of 1947 and 1948 when he was serving with the Army in India.

His 176 first team appearances for the club, many of them as Captain, was followed by a distinguished refereeing career, where he chaired the SRU’s Referees Selection Committee. His great experience of Sevens was tapped into by the SRU for the inaugural World Sevens in 1993, while, fittingly, he was President of Melrose in 1983, when the Centenary of the Sevens was celebrated.

NICK McKINLAY re-located from Redcar on Tees-side to Bridge of Allan in the 1970s and immediately joined Stirling County. Equally at home in either half-back position, he soon got into the 1st XV and was Club Captain from 1979 to 1981. He later returned to Redcar, where he passed away in mid-October. In an online post on County’s Facebook page, Club President John Gibson paid generous tribute to a man he called: “A great County man, respected by all who knew him.”

A weel-kent face around Scottish Rugby since his playing days with his native Jed, BARRY HUGHES had spent the last two decades with Dunfermline, where he was coach of the Under-14 team at the time of his sudden and unexpected passing on 24th November.

The groundsman at Scotstoun Stadium, COLIN McKINNON died following a short illness and, in his memory, the Glasgow Warriors’ squad wore black armbands for their match against Ulster on 25th November.

ANDY AULD, who died aged 72, was “old school Kilmarnock.” Although never a stand-out player, he was a fairly regular presence in the first team at a time when Kilmarnock made the leap from being a junior club to operating in the upper reaches of the SRU Leagues. Family and work commitments saw him stop playing, but, he continued to support the club throughout his life.

Earlier this month, news arrived of the passing of DAVE FIRTH, who played 250 games for Selkirk, captaining the side during the 1973-4 season.

Prior to the kick-off at the first leg of the 1872 Cup, at Scotstoun, on Friday, 23rd December, there was a minute’s silence in memory of MICHAEL DOUGLAS, one of the unsung production men of broadcasting.

Mike, who was in his early 40s, had a long career in broadcasting, with BBC Scotland, then with various TV companies, where he established a reputation as one of the best producers of rugby in the profession.

* by MATT VALLANCE


Edinburgh v Glasgow: URC points head east but 1872 Cup stays in the west

11 Comments

  1. Great roundup read and especially the salutes to those tireless rugby stalwarts lost in the year.

  2. Pity that refereeing missed out on recognition. However, I appreciate the time and effort and love of the Game that so clearly shows in your work. Especially, I am comforted by your determination to expose Dodson and, to a lesser extent, Jeffrey for the disgraceful trimmers that they proved themselves to be. Thank you for remembering the tragedy of Siobhan’s death.

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  3. No referee award of the year?? Thought our own Hollie Davidson deserved a mention considering everything she achieved in 2023

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  4. A cheering read to carry into the New Year. Thoughtful and well researched.

    Once again TOL leads the way, keeping the rugby fraternity informed.

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  5. Nice read. Lovely touch with the obituaries.

    A happy New Year to all at The Offside Line. Here’s to another great year of rugby coverage.

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  6. A really good read. Particularly liked the Mark Dodson and Michelle Mone awards. Also nice to see Joe Dickson and Jim Gilchrist mentioned.

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  7. Very enjoyable. Lovely touch for Connor Tofts, his uncle Robert will be very touched.
    Cannot argue with Dodgeson’s award, or Hawick’s.

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