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Alastair Biggar

9th February 2016

Alastair Biggar

By . (55373265) 0 comment Scotland Rugby cap and British Lion Born: August 4, 1946 Died: February 6, 2016 THE former rugby player Alastair Biggar, who has died of cancer aged 69, was a fast and forceful winger or centre who was capped 12 times for Scotland. Born in Edinburgh, he was the nephew of the great post-war flanker Douglas Elliott, and made his debut for Scotland alongside another notable new boy, Gordon Brown, in Scotland's 6-3 win over the South Africans, at Murrayfield, in December1969. It became known as Ian Smith's Match, as Smith, like Biggar making his debut out of London Scottish, scored all the home team's points. Biggar went on to become a Scotland regular, scoring his only international try in the 14-5 Murrayfield win over England in the 1970 Calcutta Cup match. In a move similar to Tony Stanger's famous try in the 1990 Grand Slam match, Biggar had to leap "almost as high as the West Stand, to take the ball then touch down". The following season, 1970-71, he was an ever-present in the national side, featuring in such matches as the famous game against Wales, which John Taylor won for the visitors with "the greatest conversion since St Paul", from the touchline. Biggar also played in the final match of that campaign, the Calcutta Cup game at Twickenham in which Scotland posted their first victory at the headquarters of English rugby since 1938, then helped the Scots complete the double over the Auld Enemy in the Centenary Game at Murrayfield seven days later. His form that season earned Biggar a place on the 1971 British Lions Tour to Australia and New Zealand. He played in ten games on this iconic tour, in which the Lions scored their first and so-far only series win over the All Blacks. He did not succeed in breaking into the Test team, but he was a stalwart member of the midweek "Dirt Trackers" side, who, unlike the Test side, went through the tour undefeated. He scored nine tries on that tour, including a hat-trick against Marlborough/Nelson Bays. On his return, he retained his place in the Scotland side in the 1972 Five Nations but a hamstring injury, sustained against Wales in Cardiff saw him replaced by Lewis Dick. This match proved to be Biggar's 12th and final cap. Some London Scottish veterans believe he should have had more caps, but, at the time, there was an anti-London Scottish attitude within Murrayfield, so successful had the Exiles become. He was one of the stalwarts of the great London Scottish XVs of the time, along with fellow caps such as Alistair McHarg and Roger Arneil, featuring in some great London Scottish Sevens teams. Remembering his old team mate McHarg say: "Al was so laid-back as to be almost horizontal, but he was an extremely talented footballer. My abiding memory of him was of him making a break inside our 25 as it was then, in a New Year's Day game against Gloucester and running almost the length of the park, pursued by the Gloucester hooker and captain. "Al slowed down, keeping just ahead of his pursuer before dotting the ball down between the post. Then he had to sprint back to us, still pursued by the Gloucester hooker – who did not appreciate being made to look silly." Alastair Biggar was the eldest of three sons of Kenneth Biggar and Jean Gourlay. He and younger brothers Hamish and Ian were raised in Dumfries-shire, where his father ran the family animal feed mill, attending Dalbeattie Primary, before going on to St Mary's Prep School, Melrose, where one of his teachers was the great Scotland hooker and rugby writer, Norman Mair. He then went to Sedburgh School and on to Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedford. While here, he started his life-long association with London Scottish. However, he deserted the family business of agriculture to seek his fortune in the City of London, where he worked, until his retirement, as a foreign exchange broker. He married twice. His first marriage, to Lindy, in 1972, ended in divorce. He had a son Mark, and a daughter, Nicola from this marriage. He then had a long relationship with Christine, whom he married in 1996; he and Christine had a daughter, Emily. He is survived by both wives and his three children and brothers. MATT VALLANCE 0 comment

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