BBC Home > BBC News > Have Your Say

Bill McLaren: Your memories of the 'voice of rugby'

19 January 10 18:30 GMT

Commentator Bill McLaren, known popularly as the "voice of rugby", has died at the age of 86. BBC News website readers have been sending in their memories of the man who began his BBC broadcast career in 1953.

I always enjoyed his comical way of describing the play and players alike. He was able to make light of a situation on the rough and tumble occasions on the rugby pitch. Most of all he had a very trusting voice which made him the legend he was. May he rest in peace.
Ian Coleman, Stirling, Scotland

The Bill McLaren trophy, now is the hour. A truer gentleman and scholar of the game you'd be hard pressed to find. The amount of enjoyment he brought to listeners across the world must surely be unsurpassed. From the global rugby fraternity - rest in peace, as your voice will forever live and be heard in the game played in heaven.
Dom McCarthy, Surathani, Thailand

It took years to adjust to "other" commentators, it just wasn't the same. No matter how the game was, good or bad, his knowledge and enthusiasm pulled in the viewer, and made the game - irrespective of age!
Mark Williams, Neath, Wales

Bill McLaren was the voice of rugby and the BBC to the world. He was a non-partisan and consummate professional who will be missed by rugby and sport lovers globally. A sad loss!
Graham Chadwick, Abuja, Nigeria

He commanded the respect of both player and supporter because of his passion, knowledge and unbiased commentary of rugby. He will be sadly missed. RIP.
Greg, Dublin, Ireland

I never really liked rugby, but Bill was so educational in his commentaries when I DID watch. An endearing memory of Bill is a comment he made at the end of a game. I don't remember the player or for whom he played - but in victory, Bill commented that one lad was "bearded - but happy". So I shaved off my own beard to make sure I stayed happy. I can only say that Bill's passing likens him unto a London commuter train that departs five minutes early - he will be missed by MANY!!
Mike Smith, Sheffield, England

I grew up listening to Bill McLaren - I will always remember hearing his voice as a child sitting watching Five Nations matches. A true professional - someone the game of rugby union has yet to replace and possibly never will.
James Skinner, Cirencester, England

Bill was simply the best commentator of any sport. Knowledgeable, concise and most of all friendly. I'm sure he endeared the game to many. Personally, I don't recognise any other commentator in the rugby world since, and that's not a criticism, it's how Bill made the game his own without even knowing it. Such a passion.
Kevin Fraser, Aberdeen, Scotland

I am not a massive rugby fan, but Bill McLaren always struck me as a passionate rugby fan and epitomised the neutrality required of a great commentator. I don't think I ever heard him show bias towards Scotland during a game and that is a massive credit to the man. Sleep easy Bill, you'll be missed.
Laurence, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Probably the best commentator I have ever heard. He said nothing bad about anyone and was full of praise for any good players. He was just like another favourite uncle.
Des Mcfaul, Belfast

I am REALLY sad to hear of Bill's death. Quite why this man was never knighted for services to rugby will remain a mystery. The BBC had a glut of "The voice of...." during the 70s and 80s in terms of commentating. Bill was to my mind "The voice of Rugby". My sympathies to Bill's family. A legend has passed-on.
Steven McCue, Glenrothes, Scotland

On the occasions I was fortunate enough to meet Bill, he was always a true gent. I worked at the local radio station in the Scottish Borders for many years, and Bill would come in on occasion to voice commercials for London agencies. They would offer to fly him down and put him up in a nice hotel etc. but Bill preferred less fuss and came into the radio station to link up with a London studio. He always had a tin of Hawick Balls (sweeties) with him when he came in, and wouldn't leave until everyone had got one. Always kind and always professional - that was Bill McLaren.
Andrew McEwan, Morebattle, UK

I was lucky enough to grow up during Bill's commentating era and I will always treasure the memories of listening to his informative and entertaining commentaries on a dank Saturday afternoon.

But what I will always admire him for the most was his eloquence and his command of the English language. He had that unique ability of painting a picture with words, making even the most tedious passage of play seem like something quite riveting. But above all it was his dry sense of humour and the amusing phrases that he would come out with.

"That's coming down with snow on it...." That was his particular talent, his humour, his sense of occasion and the sheer passion that he could generate in his commentary. Quite simply, there will never be another commentator like Bill.
David Nicholls, Tiptree, Essex

The kind of commentator who took you to the game and you felt you were there. No games were dull when he was commentating, the rugby equivalent of John Arlott and Brian Johnston. His last game was so emotional and I feel today as if my favourite uncle has passed away.
Pete Burke, Willenhall, England

Related BBC sites