Scottish Rugby sadly reports that Bruce Hay, the former Scotland and British Lions full back and wing, has died after a long illness. He was 57. Bruce played 23 internationals for Scotland between 1975 and 1982. His first and last Tests were, coincidently, both against the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland. He also played in three Tests for the Lions on the 1980 tour to South Africa, and he appeared four times for the Barbarians.Scottish Rugby sadly reports that Bruce Hay, the former Scotland and British Lions full back and wing, has died after a long illness. He was 57.
Bruce played 23 internationals for Scotland between 1975 and 1982. His first and last Tests were, coincidently, both against the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland. He also played in three Tests for the Lions on the 1980 tour to South Africa, and he appeared four times for the Barbarians.
All but one of Bruce’s internationals and his three Tests for the Lions were played alongside his close friend and rival, Andy Irvine, who was Scottish Rugby Union President from 2005 until earlier this year. Their careers for Edinburgh team also ran parallel, with Bruce making more than 40 appearances for the district, well over half of them in Andy’s company.
Andy Irvine said of his old friend: “If he’d been playing today he would have won 50/60 caps. For seven years he was involved in every game … playing or on the bench.
“He came from an unfashionable club. He went on to play senior rugby with Boroughmuir, but he always held on to his Liberton roots.”
The Scotland Rugby World Cup players and management this afternoon expressed their sincere condolences to Bruce’s family.
Scotland captain Jason White said: "It's obviously very, very sad to hear of Bruce's death. I first met him as a member of the Scotland under-19 squad that he managed at the IRB World Championship in Argentina 10 years ago. He was a really genuine guy with the interests of players always uppermost in his mind. On behalf of all the players I extend our sympathies to his family and friends."
Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: "It's terribly sad. Bruce's contribution to Scottish Rugby has been simply immense. My personal dealings with him started when he was manager with Scotland under-19, and he brought a tremendous enthusiasm, commitment and ability – just as he had showed as a player – to that role. If there was a more popular man in the game, then I have yet to meet him."
Bruce was born on 23 May 1950 in Edinburgh and was educated at Liberton High School before going into a career as a mining engineer and latterly as a sales representative. His early rugby was for the Liberton club before he joined Boroughmuir in 1972.
He was still playing junior rugby for Liberton when he made his Edinburgh debut as a surprise selection in Andy’s absence for an extra match against Glasgow on the Murrayfield international pitch in April 1972. Glasgow had instigated that game as a tie-breaker to decide the district championship. Edinburgh won the match and the title, but that April evening was remembered for the launching of a career that was to take Bruce around the top flight of world of rugby.
Within a year of his district debut, Bruce played full back in the Glasgow-Edinburgh combined XV who held the All Blacks to a 16-10 win at Hughenden. But he had to wait three years before Scotland’s selectors accepted that two full backs with the talents of Irvine and Hay had to be accommodated in the one team. His Scotland debut was in the 1975 “water polo” Test match in Auckland, though it was a short-lived appearance as he broke an arm early in the first half.
Five of Bruce’s Scotland appearances were against the All Blacks, and his try in the Murrayfield international in December 1978 was the first by a Scot against New Zealand for 53 years. He scored once more against the All Blacks in Auckland in his final Test match, three months after his one other international try. That was in the 10-9 win against Ireland at Murrayfield in March 1981, his final Five Nations Championship appearance.
For the district team Bruce also played against New Zealand as well as Australia: Edinburgh lost both only narrowly. He had further experience of New Zealand rugby on the Lions’ 1977 tour, when he played in 11 games and scored five tries.
Bruce had to wait until the 1980 tour to South Africa before he appeared in internationals for Lions. He was left wing in the second, third, and fourth Tests and scored a try in the third. As in New Zealand three years earlier, he played in 11 matches on the South African tour, and he had the honour of captaining the Lions to victories in two games – from full back against a Country Districts XV in Windhoek, and from the left wing against Eastern Transvaal in Springs.
His international honours also included selection in the Scotland/Ireland XV in the Welsh Rugby Union centenary match against England/Wales at Cardiff in 1980-1981.
More than half of Bruce’s games for Edinburgh were at full back, and all bar one of the others were on the wing. The exception was when he captained the team from centre in victory in a district championship match against North and Midlands at St Andrews.
Bruce played in the Boroughmuir team who won the final unofficial club championship in 1973 before the introduction of the SRU competition. With Boroughmuir he won a Melrose sevens medal in 1976, and he was twice captain of the club, first in 1979-1980 and again five years later.
After his retirement from playing Bruce coached Boroughmuir for nine years from 1986. During that time Boroughmuir won the first-division championship in 1991. Andy Irvine described Bruce as “a tremendous coach”.
On retirement from the coaching role in 1994 Bruce became the club’s director of rugby. He also coached the Edinburgh XV, Scotland B, and the national under-19 team. Latterly, he had a long sojourn as the highly respected manager of that Scotland under-19 squad.
Scottish Rugby sends condolences to Bruce’s wife Lynda, daughter Lynsey, and immediate family.