60 Of The Best – Great Quotes from Bill McLaren (part 1 of 4)

Bill 2 Headphones

The late great, Bill McLaren was simply the world’s best rugby commentator ever. He was known as ‘The Voice Of Rugby’. You’ll see why. Bill believed passionately in sportsmanship. So in celebration of the 6 Nations Rugby Championship which starts this weekend we’ll publish 6o of the best quotes from the master himself, plus a piece by, Bill’s daughter, Linda, who wrote something special for us (see end).

Bill believed in sportsmanship – shaking hands, thanking the ref, respect, fun and, of course, competition. He loved the characters in the game. His unique descriptions and authoritive voice added so much excitement, intrigue and enthral. So here’s part 1 of 4: the first 15 from 60.



“They will be dancing in the street’s tonight.” When a good try was scored


“A little bit of argy-bargy there.”

“Those props are as cunning as a bag o’ weasels.”

“He’s like a raging bull with a bad head.”

Tough Guys

“You wouldn`t want to meet him in a dark alleyway!”

“Wade Dooley the big Blackpool policeman standing like a lighthouse at the back of the lineout”

“I look at Colin Meads and see a great big sheep farmer who carried the ball in his hands as though it was an orange pip.”

As Scott and Craig waited to join the fray on the touchline: “There’s the Quinnell brothers, two well nourished individuals”

Referring to one of the French front row as “having a face like a carpenters bag o’chisels”

Big Boys

“Big Vleis Visagie – born when meat was cheap!”

On Andre Venter “He’s no oil painting, but look at him working the blind side like a pop-up toaster!”

On Os du Randt “There he goes – South Africa’s rhino!”

On Finlay Calder – “hands like dinner plates!”

“John Jeffrey – the big Kelso farmer – gathers the ball…”

On Scott Gibbs “When he hits you, you think the roof has just fallen in.”


Bill’s Daughter, Linda Wrote These Words For Us

In the 2 years since Dad died we have become aware of how highly he was respected and loved, not only in rugby circles but also in the wider world community. Two of the main reasons for that were the warm human touch he had with people from all backgrounds as well as the values he held dear throughout his life and career.

He was well known for his honesty, fairness, integrity, self-discipline, loyalty, humour and kindness and these, among many other fine characteristics, are the qualities we aim to promote, especially in youngsters, through the Foundation which has been created in his name. We plan to achieve this by encouraging children to become involved in the game of rugby and in doing so to develop the many vital skills which are so important in everyday life.

I hope Dad would be proud to know that he is still remembered so fondly and that his legacy will continue to make a difference in the future.

Bill 4 Coaching

The Bill McLaren Foundation

60 Of The Best – Great Quotes from the late great Bill McLaren

Running x 11; Passing x 1; Kicking x 10; Jumping x 4; Celebrations x 1; Fisticuffs x 3 Tough Guys x 5; Big Boys x14; Weather x 2; Absolute Classic McLaren x 5; Looking Back x 2; Encouraging students x 1; Sportsmanship x 1

Bill Mclaren Quotes Part 2 about Big Guys and Runners  (15 x Quotes)

Bill Mclaren Quotes Part 3 about Runners (& jinkers); Passing; Kicking and Lineout Jumping (15 x Quotes)

Bill Mclaren Quotes Part 4  Line-Out jumping (continued), Weather Conditions, Classic Mclaren, Looking Back (15 x Quotes)


Bill’s Last Interview

20 thoughts on “60 Of The Best – Great Quotes from Bill McLaren (part 1 of 4)

  1. His voice in my opinion was really and truly the only voice…the only commentator who understood the soul of rugby and was able to express it. Nice to have him back in my life again.

  2. I read Bill’s book and got shivers. I felt so strongly that I wanted to write to him to tell how I felt – his book touched me even though I never met the man. Lovely to hear his daughter’s words and that his name is still alive in rugby and still respected.

  3. A great commentator all right but also a wonderful human being….when you listen to some of todays commentators with their self opinionated drivel you realise just how magnificent Bill was and how much he added to the enjoyment of the televised game. Sorely missed still by all rugby enthusiasts who ever heard him.

  4. His voice just reminds me of watching the internationals on BBC TV in the 1970’s with my Dad. He is just part of the personal baggage you pick up as you pass through life reminding me in part of why I love Rugby so much.

  5. What a true gent, great commentater and voice of rugby who set the scene and had a wonderful way of describing the game and the players – I count myself as a well nourished individual! Loved the game since I was a kid (season ticket holder at the mighty Glawster) and his voice was Saturday afternoon internationals when they all kicked off at 2.30!

    • Well said guys
      @Graham his voice was Staurday afternoon international rugby – it wa eslectrifying to hear Bill McLaren.
      @Steve – too true my father was an absolute fan of Bill Mclaren too.
      @Jonny L – agree when you hear today’s commentators it does make you think just how outstanding Billl McLaren was
      @Johnny M – nice words and yes his daughter, Linda’s words made this so special.
      @Shane yes he is a legend. Ihope this post and the other 4 (3 already posted (see the links in the article) – will spread the legend and encourage other commentators to learn from the master Bill McLaren.

  6. I believe he may have said a cracking comment about my friend Jack Morley who sadly died in April this year. I know Jack loved it and he only played once I believe for Scotland. How could I find it ?

    • Tracy – try Scottish RFU – they should list all the Scottish teams for every game they played. Sift through the team lists. Find they game he played in, date and venue. Equipped with that BBC Archives might be able to help? BBC would have filmed the match and it’s in the archives somewhere. They are doing work with making their archives more accessible – so yur timing might be good. Then watch the match & find the quote! Good luck with it. Let me know if you have any luck. ~ Paul ~ PS try googling Bill McLaren and Jack Morley. PPS Presume yo have double checked all 4 parts of my Bill McLaren quotes?

  7. Bad day at work and I decided to look up some of Bill’s lines. Brings me back to the early 80s watching tape delay internationals in Canada. I didn’t see two of my favourites listed:

    After a Gavin Hastings clearance kick, “Safe as houses; warm as toast”.

    I don’t remember who he was referring to during a powerful #8 pickup but, “18 stone and loves to ramble.

    They just don’t make them like him in any sport anymore.

  8. I was lucky enough to read his signed book having heard his fantastic voice for many years. It’s inspiring and his pride of his home town Hawick shines through.
    His quotes must be kept alive, ideally through his voice as they lose some impact without this.

    • Yes John, Bill must be kept alive. A whole new generation need to hear him in action. In fact I’m sure I have an excerpt of his last ever recorded commentary. I’ll have a search for this and add it when I find it. I recently photographed his match notes for his last game – the work of a true master – massive detailed research. I will add these amazing photos. Thanks for your comment John. ~ Paul

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