Aidan McCall Hagan
Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death in an accident in Australia last month of former Scotland age-grade wing/full-back Aidan McCall Hagan. He had just turned 29.
Educated at St Aloysius College in Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh where he graduated in medicine, Aidan McCall Hagan was a contemporary of current Scotland players, captain Stuart Hogg, stand-off Finn Russell, prop Rory Sutherland and hooker George Turner, when he represented Scotland at U17 and U18 levels in seasons 2008/9 and 2009/10.
It was something of a vintage crop for Scotland, as Mark Bennett, Harry Leonard, Alex Allan, Robin Hislop, Fergus Scott and Mitch Eadie also went on to scale the heights into professional rugby from these squads.
Yet a common description of McCall Hagan from coaches and backroom staff at the time was that he was very much part and parcel of such exalted talent.
Former Scotland U18 team manager, John Manson, said: “Aidan was a very energetic young man. He was a bit of a livewire at training. Very good off the park around the squad and a very likeable character with a bit of an edge about him, in a good way.”
His coaches with Scotland U17, Bryan Easson, and Scotland U18, Grant McKelvey, were equally effusive.
Easson said: “You knew Aidan was in the squad and around, even if he wasn’t on the field. He was a very positive guy and it was no surprise what high regard he was held, in the other teams he played for.”
McKelvey added: “Aidan was a great kid. Gave everything 100% and had a brilliant work ethic. He absolutely deserved his selections.
“He played the same important part on and off the field and knew the meaning of teamwork and togetherness.
“He took a while to find his feet but showed fantastic resilience, recovering from injury to become a very positive influence within the group over the two seasons plus that they were together.”
Former Scottish Rugby media manager Isobel Irvine takes up the story.
“I first came across Aidan in a queue of under-17 squaddies, waiting to get their head and shoulders photos done for that year’s Millfield Festival outing. He stood head and shoulders above the rest, quite literally.
“A rangy back with a ready smile and a genial demeanour, he was popular with his peers. Though happy to join in the banter, he clearly took his selection seriously, appreciated the opportunity and seemed older than his years.
“Doing post-match phone interviews with the coaches that season, for website stories, or pitchside the following season at Scotland U18 home fixtures, I would ask to speak to a player for a quick quote. Aidan was a go-to on this front, enthusiastic, eloquent and early out of the changing rooms!
“That season’s under-17s were a special bunch; energetic, fearless and hugely talented, they seemed to breathe new life into the age grade and Aidan easily held his own alongside the likes of Stuart Hogg, Mark Bennett, Harry Leonard, Fergus Scott and Rory Sutherland.
“They won three from three at Millfield against Belgium, Wales and England - Aidan scoring at least one try and moved up as a tight-knit group into the under-18s.
“It was during that season that I remember helping out at an airport departure. There was plenty of excitement/mayhem as they lugged their kit bags to check-in, then howls of laughter as Robin Hislop - who had decided the best way to distinguish his from all the other identical bags, was to scrawl his nickname in huge black letters along the side.
“It hadn’t occurred to him that ‘Bomber’ wasn’t entirely appropriate under the circumstances. I remember catching Aidan looking at him, arms folded, shaking his head - a smile but no laugh. Of all people, he was well versed in air travel security! That kind of summed him up - a real team player, thoughtful and intelligent, happy to get involved in the madness but quick to read the game should a change of tack be required.”
He played club rugby with Glasgow Hawks, West of Scotland and Boroughmuir and, in the fifth year of his studies, in 2015, represented Edinburgh University in the “world’s oldest varsity match” against St Andrews University on the international pitch at BT Murrayfield, though by this stage he had switched position to blindside flanker.
Aidan’s friend, Robbie Greenhalgh, said: “Aidan was a brilliant friend with so many idiosyncrasies on and off the pitch. I recall watching his varsity appearance at BT Murrayfield with some friends and calling over to him as he set up for a scrum.
“Deep in the heat of battle, Aidan turned around, gave us a wave like he was passing us in the street and then returned to the game unperturbed. He also had a nasty habit of filling the channel between 13 and 15, like all the good flankers of the world. I had to tell him off for that every time we played together!”
Aidan was exceptionally close to and proud of his father, Bill, an airline pilot. It was from Bill that Aidan inherited a love and appreciation of travel and often said were it not for his desire to study medicine, he would have been a pilot. He travelled extensively and had visited every continent except for Antarctica. He was also an avid historian.
On completing school, Aidan had a gap year in Australia, playing amateur rugby, before returning to Scotland to begin his medical studies in Edinburgh.
He graduated in 2017 and commenced the first part of his training in Newcastle for two years before moving back to Australia where he planned to spend a few years working in general medicine. He had been in Melbourne for just over a year at the time of his death which followed a tragic accident at his home.
Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Aidan’s family and many friends.