Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death last night of Arthur Ross, one of the pioneering and longest-serving figures in the development of rugby coaching in Scotland. He was 92.
Recognised by Scottish Rugby as recipient of its Spirit of Rugby Award in 2009, Arthur gave more than 70 years of service to the game of rugby, with unfailing energy, commitment and great sense of fun.
He was in the vanguard of shaping how coaching should be conducted in Scotland and he continued his love affair for the game, still coaching a first-year school team in Edinburgh well into his 80s, while also fulfilling more traditional roles in club rugby administration at his beloved Boroughmuir, where his final role saw him act as team manager of the third XV.
Arthur Ross was born in Edinburgh on 5 August 1925, five months after Murrayfield Stadium was openend, and his love affair with rugby started at Monkseaton Grammar in Northumberland, where he captained the first XV.
He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and worked briefly at the Clydesdale Bank before beginning his PE studies at Woolmanhill College in Aberdeen.
He taught PE at Musselburgh, Currie and Penicuik High Schools, the Royal High School (from 1956-1970 during which they developed a formidable reputation for expansive rugby), Forrester High and Merchiston Castle School.
In his playing career, he represented the Percy Park and York clubs in the north of England and Edinburgh Wanderers, Musselburgh and Royal High closer to home.
In tandem with his coaching, Arthur became heavily involved in administration, too, starting the first SRU schoolboy coaching camp at Bruar in Perthshire in 1978 and played a pivotal role in establishing the first Scottish Schools Cup in 1983, a competition still going strong to this day.
He served on the committees and ultimately became President of Edinburgh Schools, Scottish Schools, Edinburgh University, Scottish Universities, Scottish Students and Boroughmuir.
Jim Telfer, the former Scotland and Lions coach, worked alongside Arthur at Forrester High. He recalled: “Arthur was a member of the first SRU Coaching Panel – a group of dedicated school teachers in the main, who organised coaching courses for club coaches, both locally and nationally.
“The weekend national course at three different levels over a weekend in June drove the development of coaching in Scotland for over 20 years. Arthur was at the heart of that.”
As a coach, Arthur led Midlothian Schools, Edinburgh Schools, Scottish Schools, Edinburgh University, Scottish Universities and the Edinburgh District side (including coaching the Combined Edinburgh/Glasgow XV against the touring All Blacks).
One of his players from that era, the Scotland and Lions full-back and later Scottish Rugby President, Andy Irvine, hailed Arthur as a “tireless and dedicated champion of grassroots rugby in Scotland.”
Irvine added: “Our game has witnessed many changes over the years. A reassuring constant on the Edinburgh rugby landscape (was) the knowledgeable and committed presence of Arthur Ross.”
Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Arthur’s family and many friends.
Arthur's funeral will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh at 3pm on Thursday 31 August.