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Thousands pay tribute to Bill McLaren

11 March 10 22:00 GMT

Thousands of fans joined big names from the world of rugby at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium for a special tribute to commentator Bill McLaren.

The Hawick-born broadcaster, who was known as "The voice of rugby", died in January aged 86.

Big screens showed specially-created match footage accompanied by some of McLaren's most memorable commentary.

It was hosted by broadcaster Dougie Donnelly, with McLaren's wife Bette among the 4,000 people in the crowd.

Among the legends of the sport who paid tribute to the former BBC commentator during the event were former British and Irish Lions captains Gavin Hastings and Bill Beaumont.

Beaumont told the crowd: "As a player, he always made me feel special. Bill was universally loved by everybody.

"Bill McLaren represented everything that was good in the game of rugby and to me he was the voice of rugby."

Ireland and Lions rugby legend Mike Gibson said McLaren had an "encyclopaedic knowledge of rugby and a highly developed instinct for the game".

'Wonderful tribute'

Andy Irvine, the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions fullback, said McLaren was a "character" and had a "unique understanding of the game".

Irvine said: "He would tell us about the great matches, the great teams. The great players in the '50s and '60s. I could have listened to him for hours and hours."

Free commemorative programmes were available at the two-hour event, with musical accompaniment provided by Morriston Orpheus, a Welsh male voice choir, and the Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band.

Dominic McKay, director of communications and public affairs for Scottish Rugby, said afterwards: "It was a privilege for Scottish Rugby to host a wonderful tribute to the late, great Bill McLaren.

"The tributes from some of rugby's greats were much appreciated by the rugby community. More than 4,000 people were at Murrayfield tonight."

The event took place in the run-up to the Calcutta Cup clash with England on Saturday.

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