Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death of former Scotland prop Tom McGlashan. He passed away in East Lothian last Thursday aged 94.
For ten days he was our oldest surviving internationalist.
Thomas Perry Lang McGlashan was born in Edinburgh on 29 December 1925. He won eight caps for Scotland between 1947 and 1954.
Educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh – where he held the Scottish Schools shot-putt record – and Edinburgh University, McGlashan gained a boxing blue at university, but it was in rugby that he forged a reputation as an uncompromising, robust and durable scrummager.
His finest hour was arguably Scotland’s meeting with New Zealand in 1954. Scotland had not won a game in three years when Bob Stuart’s All Blacks came to Murrayfield.
The forwards were heavily outweighed and one contemporary newspaper report noted that “none of us before the match had felt much but sympathy” for the task facing the Scotland pack.
But, as the scribe in the Glasgow Herald continued, the forwards “scrummaged so splendidly that they actually gained the bigger share of the ball in the tight in the first-half, several times pushing back their powerful opponents.”
Scotland lost the game to a Bob Scott penalty (0-3) but the consensus was that New Zealand would have had no complaints if they had lost the match.
McGlashan played as a 19-year-old, representing the Army in two Services Internationals against England in 1945. The first at Welford Road, Leicester, which Scotland Services won 18-11, the second at Murrayfield that March, which England Services won 16-5.
McGlashan appeared in a Scotland trial alongside Bill McLaren and made his debut on New Year’s Day 1947 – the first capped international after the Second World War – when Scotland lost 3-8 to France at the Stade Colombes in Paris.
He played in two further matches that year, against Ireland at home and England away.
He represented the Barbarians on their 1947 Easter tour to South Wales, playing in the victories over Penarth and Newport and then also enjoyed a Barbarians victory against East Midlands in a match rearranged after frost.
In the 1951-52 season, McGlashan helped his club, Royal High School FP, to the runners-up position in the unofficial Scottish club championship. During his career, he played 249 1st XV games for the club between 1942 and 1964.
After a seven-year absence he returned to the Scotland team in 1954, playing in all the Championship matches and that game against New Zealand but sadly, he was never on a winning Scotland side in a cap international.
A dentist by profession, and Scottish Rugby’s honorary dentist for many years, McGlashan was one of the early pioneers of gum shields, and his family have memories of the smell of latex as he made the early prototypes.
Research has now shown that the wearing of a custom-made gum shield reduces the risk of concussion in contact sports.
McGlashan was a regular attender at BT Murrayfield international matches until last year and continued to enjoy the gatherings of international players around the Autumn Test matches. He also contributed to Scottish Rugby’s archive by donating old cine reel footage of previous matches.
He died peacefully in Muirfield Nursing Home in Gullane on 17 September after suffering from Alzheimer's for some 18 years.
Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Tom’s family and friends.
As his final contribution, he has donated his brain to the Glasgow University research project into the link between head injury and dementia.