Obituary: Barry Sinclair

Obituary: Barry Sinclair

Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death of Barry Sinclair, a devoted servant to Scottish rugby, who passed away on 6 December 2021. He was 70 years old.

Barry had been involved with Portobello RFC for 52 years and was widely known by the Edinburgh and Lothians community, and by those involved across Scottish rugby.

Growing up in the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, Barry has been described as “Portobello through and through”, he even had a job on Portobello beach as a young boy leading donkey rides.

He began his journey in rugby playing at Portobello High School before joining the local rugby club in the late 60s, which quickly became his home away from home.

During his playing days, Barry was regularly selected at prop for one of the team’s senior men’s sides.

Barry quickly began to support the club as a volunteer. Over the years he fulfilled a variety of roles including Coach, Director of Rugby and Secretary, and was actively involved as a member of the club’s committee until his passing.

Barry was part of the many highs and lows at Portobello.

In 2007 Portobello RFC’s clubhouse was burned down in an act of vandalism, with 50-years’ worth of the club’s proud history – trophies, photographs and memories – destroyed in the process.

In the days that followed, many questioned whether the blaze would herald a forbidding end to Portobello’s rugby future, but that did not account for the incredible spirit of the club’s membership, or the determination of Barry Sinclair.

With Barry driving much of the work, the club went on to rebuild the clubhouse, and in the years following, Portobello twice went on to reach the Shield and Bowl finals at BT Murrayfield, with the club coming out on top as the BT Bowl winners against Blairgowrie in 2017 winning 23-33, a day which meant so much to Barry.

Whilst the club has gone on to enjoy numerous on-field successes, Barry himself was no stranger to silverware and recognition either.

In 2005 he was awarded Scottish Rugby’s Spirit of Rugby and Volunteer of the Year award and following the events in 2007 which saw the Porty clubhouse destroyed, former All Blacks star Bryan Williams presented Barry with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts to help rebuild the club.

Furthermore, Barry became the first recipient of Portobello’s Club Award for ‘Club Member of the Season’ in 2006.

Whilst much of Barry’s time was spent with Portobello, he was also a champion and active contributor to the operation of club rugby across Scotland and in particular the East region.

In 2007 Barry was elected unopposed to fill the position of Edinburgh Regional League Representative on the Scottish Rugby Council, succeeding George Jack. He retained this position until June 2012.

In the same year, Barry was elected as the East Regional League Championship Committee Representative and East Region Competitions Committee Convenor. He served in this role for three terms.

He once again took up position with the committee as a representative in 2018 succeeding Murdo Gillanders who stood down due to his commitments on the Scottish Rugby Council, being once again officially elected to the position in the 2019 season and served the group until his passing.

Barry was also a champion of youth, student and University rugby. A passionate advocate of the pathway system, Barry managed Edinburgh age-grade teams, while he also took great pride in serving as a trustee on Scottish Rugby’s own charity, the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation.

Away from rugby, Barry spent his working career with Drambuie and latterly Scottish Widows.

Eddie Robb, former President of Portobello RFC was a friend to Barry for many years.

“Barry was the backbone of Portobello RFC. Barry may have been the old guard - but his mind was open,” said Eddie.

“He had been around the Portobello block and used that experience to sharpen his ambition for the club, rather than fog it. Barry would thoughtfully consider each of my grand plans and I’d study that moustache waiting for any twitch of a verdict. The good ideas got the Barry treatment; he propelled them into reality.

“His knowledge of the club was unparalleled, and he worked tirelessly to help all levels of Portobello do great things on the rugby pitch. The other ideas got the Barry treatment too - but usually with a quick one liner and that customary smirk.”

He added: “Barry worked with such passion to keep the club game at the heart of Scottish Rugby in his many roles with the governing body. Barry’s belief in people and the game gave him an unrelenting stamina.

“He was a great mentor, support, colleague and friend and will be sorely missed. You can’t separate the man from the club, nor the club from the man. Porty and Barry go hand in hand. We will never forget him and all he has done for the sport.”

Scottish Rugby sends its sincere condolences to Barry’s family – wife Christine, children Karen and Christopher, their partners Martyn and Ann and grandson Finlay – and his many friends.

His funeral is to be held at 11am on Friday 7 January, at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh. All welcome, family flowers only, donations welcome to the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation .

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