His scrummaging and loose play were both of a high standard. Gordon Brown rated him the best prop he had played alongside. He was capped 43 times for Scotland, and was captain of the national side nineteen times (ten times of which Scotland won).
He had to wait until second half of his twenties for a cap, and played for another ten years, before being dropped in 1979.
"Like McLeod, Ian McLauchlan was short and about as broad as a church door... There was always something a bit odd about his figure even before he acquired a certain rotundity that made him more like a French than a British prop. But nobody found him easy to prop against: he burrowed under the opposition."
Richard Bath writes:
"Certainly, McLauchlan was not the conventional size and shape for a loose-head prop in the 1970s, but in many ways it was precisely the combination of an amazing power to weight ratio plus his ability to get under the opposing tight-head that made him such an effective performer in the tight... As a larger than life character, he played best in the most intimidating circumstances... making him one of Scotland's most successful captains. After his retirement the Scottish Rugby Union showed their gratitude by banning him for publishing his autobiography".
On the Lions tour to New Zealand in 1971 he played in all four tests after Irish prop Ray McLaughlin broke his thumb punching Alex Wyllie in the notorious Battle of Canterbury the week before the first test.
He became a Scotland captain, and even led them in the Calcutta Cup match of 1973, despite breaking a bone in his leg two weeks before against Ireland, according to Massie "it says much for the persuasive power of his character that he convinced the selectors he was able to play."
Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN1-86200-013-1)