Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death yesterday (Tuesday 6 October) of former Scotland midfield back Tommy McClung. He was 87.
Born on St Valentine’s Day 1933, McClung (Edinburgh Accies) won nine caps for Scotland – six in the centre and three at stand-off – between 1956 and 1960.
Scottish Rugby Chairman, John Jeffrey, said: “I was fortunate to meet Tommy over the years and he was an absolute gentleman who always had time for a chat about all things rugby.
“He epitomised playing hard on and off the pitch and was usually at the centre of any parties.
“He was also a great proponent of giving youth their head and loved to see Scottish youngsters running out to win their first cap.
“Everyone involved in Scottish Rugby will miss this great character of a man.”
Educated at Edinburgh Academy, Sedbergh and Cambridge University, Tommy McClung played in the 1954 Varsity match helping the light blues to victory.
He won his first cap against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1956. He started at centre, but Scotland lost their stand-off, Angus Cameron, through concussion early in the first-half, resulting in McClung moving infield. In spite of playing the game short-handed, Scotland only lost 10-14 with McClung providing two conversions.
In the 1955-56 and 1956-57 seasons McClung was restricted by injuries but added to his cap tally against England in 1956 and then Wales, Ireland and England again in 1957. He also was instrumental in Edinburgh Accies winning the unofficial club championship in 1955-56.
In that match against the Welsh, McClung played a pivotal role in a 9-6 win, his first in a Scotland jersey. Author Ken Bogle, in his book Scottish Rugby: Game by Game, recounts: “Close to the interval, McClung, who played maturely throughout, put in a perfect diagonal kick to the right corner and (Arthur) Smith raced up to score a try.”
When the Welsh came calling to Murrayfield again two years later, McClung enjoyed his second victory for Scotland, this time by a tighter margin of 6-5.
His final cap was the away game against Wales in 1960. He did tour South Africa with Scotland in 1960 but did not feature in the Test match in that pioneering short tour.
What might be described loosely as an “incident” on the plane bringing the Scotland team home – whereby an emergency life raft was inflated – brought an end to his international ambitions.
He represented the Barbarians on four occasions, joining the Easter tours to Wales in both 1956 and 1957.
A potato merchant by profession in Edinburgh, McClung is a member of the Edinburgh Accies Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife Marion, children Fraser, Gilbert and Celia and eight grandchildren.
Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Tommy McClung’s family and many friends.