Scottish Rugby have stated that they are immensely saddened to learn of the death in hospital in Edinburgh last night of former Scotland scrum-half, captain, coach and manager, Dougie Morgan.

ADVERTISEMENT

He was 73 and had been ill for some time.

In addition to being capped 21 times for Scotland between 1973 and 1978, Morgan also played two Test matches for the British & Irish Lions on their 1977 tour of New Zealand.

Speaking to Scottish Rugby, McGeechan, who played and coached with Morgan over some 40 years, said: “Dougie was a team-mate who became a very good friend during an association with Scottish rugby which covered four decades.

“He was hugely competitive and a talented sportsman – he put up with me on the golf course, an experience which showed his patience and calmness, attributes which made him a perfect manager in later years.

“Dougie had a deep understanding of the game and was tactically very aware. I will never forget him standing on Gareth Edwards’ foot to distract him whilst trying to put the ball into the scrum, an approach which stopped Wales playing and we ultimately won the game. He was also a natural goal kicker.

“He was a great room-mate and always had a mug of tea waiting by the bedside in a morning. He unselfishly helped and supported others. He was also supremely organised, and I often used him as a sounding board when coaching.

ADVERTISEMENT

“His support was never better than with Jim Telfer, Derek Grant and myself we had a coaching group which shared ideas, particularly in the build up to the Rugby World Cup in 1991.

“On and off the field he was a great friend and companion. I have memories I will always cherish and be very thankful for knowing Dougie.”

Richie Dixon, who coached with Morgan at Scotland under-21, Scotland B and the senior national team and who succeeded Morgan as head coach in 1996, said: “Dougie was a very committed guy. As a player, he was very astute and combative and very much a natural leader and his record for Scotland and the Lions speaks for itself.

“He was very loyal to the rugby family and, most of all, his own family.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As a coach, he was very much a thinker. I enjoyed working with him. He was just hellbent on making things good. He will be sadly missed.”

Morgan then moved into team management, fulfilling that role with Scotland 7s, Scotland A – including their 1998 Grand Slam – and the senior Scotland team in 2000, bowing out after the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, where Scotland, again, had reached the quarter-finals.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: “I was really saddened to hear that Dougie has passed away. He was a great servant to Scottish rugby, first and foremost as a terrific player and captain of the national side.

“He went on to have success as a coach and in 1995 we came very close to winning a Grand Slam and a few months later his Scotland team were only seconds away from topping their pool in the World Cup until France scored deep into injury time.

“Dougie was a hugely popular figure in his time as manager of the national team, someone who enjoyed having a laugh with the players, although he kept his natural competitive instinct whenever we took him on at pool or on the golf course. He has contributed a huge amount to Scottish rugby and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Douglas Waugh Morgan was born in Edinburgh on 9 March 1947 and gave a lifetime of dedicated service to the game.

At a time where international rugby had some world-class scrum-halves, Morgan, the fiercest of competitors, frequently outshone those with a stellar reputation.

Arguably two of his finest performances in a Scotland jersey came in the Murrayfield victories over Wales in 1973 and 1975.

In the former, his debut, the Melville College scrum-half was hailed for his persistent disruption of Gareth Edwards – who had already helped the Lions to a Test series victory in New Zealand – which put the Welsh genius off his game and was pivotal in Scotland’s 10-9 victory.

Then, two years later, in a match which drew a then world-record crowd of 104,000 to Murrayfield, Morgan’s three penalties, in addition to his continuing shackling of Edwards, was once again hugely significant in a 12-10 margin.

On the 1977 Lions tour to New Zealand, Morgan scored all the Lions points, including a try, in the narrow 9-10 loss at Eden Park.

The following year, he was appointed Scotland captain and led the team for the first time at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, where his fellow Lion, tight-head prop, Sandy Carmichael became the first Scot to reach the milestone of 50 caps.

Deep into injury time in that game, Scotland were trailing 9-12 and were awarded a decidedly kickable penalty, which would have earned them a draw. Morgan, underlining that, for him, winning was the only currency in international rugby, opted to run the ball but the move broke down and Ireland held out. He had, however, again demonstrated the courage of his own conviction.

The 1978 championship was a tale of narrow defeats for Scotland – except for a 0-15 loss to England in the Calcutta Cup, which turned out to be Morgan’s final cap, having garnered 71 points for Scotland in his Test career.

He continued to play club rugby for another six years and helped Stewart’s-Melville – the club spawned from the merger of the FP clubs of Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College – to some terrific achievements, not least winning Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham in 1982, where he converted 11 of their 12 tries.

Morgan soon moved into coaching and he progressed up the ladder from the Edinburgh District side eventually becoming Scotland head coach in the 1993-94 season. Before that, he had supported Sir Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer as Scotland won the 1990 Grand Slam and reached the semi-finals of the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

During his tenure as head coach, Scotland reached the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in South Africa and posted their first victory over France in Paris in 26 years.

In his “day job”, Morgan was a chiropodist at the Jenner’s department store in Edinburgh.

He took great pride in his family and spoke warmly of the rugby skills of son-in-law Graham Shiel, the Melrose midfielder, who went on to win 18 caps for Scotland, and his grand-son, Charlie Shiel, the Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half.

Scottish Rugby extended its sincere condolences to Dougie’s wife Doreen and all his family and many friends.

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now