Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 12:05 UK

Thousands back McLaren knighthood

Bill McLaren
Mr Aitchison has nominated Bill McLaren for a knighthood

More than 6,000 people have backed an online petition calling for former rugby commentator Bill McLaren to be knighted.

The internet campaign was launched on the social networking site Facebook earlier this year.

Organiser Bruce Aitchison has now submitted nomination papers in a bid to secure the honour for Mr McLaren.

Mr McLaren, from Hawick, retired in 2002 and has already received an OBE, CBE and MBE for services to the sport.

The campaign has secured the support of prominent figures in the world of rugby.

Mr Aitchison, who teaches PE at Tynecastle High in Edinburgh, said he felt such recognition would be more than deserved.

"It's a bit strange to have thrown myself into this project having only ever met Bill for about 30 seconds," he admitted.

"It was part of the aura of the man that I felt so honoured by being in his company."

'Waiting game'

He got nomination papers from Gerard Maitland-Carew, the Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, which have now been submitted for consideration.

Mr Aitchison, who expects to wait six months before a decision is made, has attracted some high level support.

He said: "A friend put me in touch with the Springboks captain John Smit.

"John said: 'If you were to ask me to describe what Scottish rugby sounded like, I'd say Bill McLaren'.

"Similarly Richie McCaw of the All Blacks told me how impressed he had been when meeting Bill, who was doing his pre-commentary research."

Mr Aitchison added that it was now a "waiting game" to see if Mr McLaren, popularly known as "the voice of rugby", would receive a knighthood.

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