60 Of The Best – Great Quotes from the late great Bill McLaren (part 2 of 4)

bill 1 in comentary box

Arguably the greatest sports commentator ever, certainly the greatest rugby commentator, Bill McLaren, known as ‘The Voice Of Rugby’ believed passionately in sport and sportsmanship. Last week’s 15 Quotes from Bill covered Celebrations, Fisticuffs, Tough Guys & some Big Boys. This week we continue with Big Boys. Here’s the next 15 unique quotes from Bill McLaren:

On French forward, Cristian Califano, ‘built like a bicycle shed’

“And there’s Beaumont in that English scrum looking like a man who enjoys his food …”

“There’s a few stone o’ Border beef in that scrum”

“There goes 18 stones of prime Scottish beef on the hoof” (anyone know who Bill is referring to here?)

With reference to Moss Keaner – “prime Irish beef”?

On Jonah Lomu “It’s like trying to tackle a snooker table!”

“Now I’m not a hod man, but if I saw Jonah Lomu running at me I’d be putting down bricks, I’ll tell you.” [on Jonah Lomu]

On Victor Ubogu’s behind – England v South Africa. Big Victor Ubogu had his shorts ripped to shreds in a frantic ruck and as he bent down to change them right in front of the camera – his big behind came into view, Bill’s dulcet tones rang out “A splendid rear view there!” The whole pub erupted with laughter.

Running (can anyone tell us who Bill was referring to here?)

“He could sidestep 3 men in a telephone box”

“He’s like a slippery salmon.”

“He’s like a whirling tsetse fly!”

“He’s like a demented ferret up a wee drainpipe.”

“He’s as quick as a trout up a burn.”

On the towering Doddie Weir running with the ball “like a run-away giraffe”

On Simon Geoghegan, Irish winger “He’s like Bambi on speed.”

On Grant Batty: “He plays like a runaway bullet.”

The late great, Bill McLaren was simply the world’s best rugby commentator ever. He was known as ‘The Voice Of Rugby’. 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. Bill 4 CoachingHis spirit lives on here in this blog and in The Bill McLaren Foundation. We were honoured when Bill’s daughter, Linda, wrote a beautiful piece for last week’s post. This week Ollie Campbell (Ireland & Lions fly half) told me that just the mention of Bill McLaren’s name brings great memories gushing back.

All 60 quotes are categorised as follows:

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


Bill Mclaren Quotes Part 1 includes quotes about Celebrations; Fisticuffs; Tough Guys; Big Guys and also a beautiful piece written by Bill’s daughter, Linda, specifically for us.

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 McLaren’s spirit lives on –  here in this blog and in The Bill McLaren Foundation.

Please add (a) any quotes you recall and (b) what Bill’s commentaries meant to you. Thank you.


13 thoughts on “60 Of The Best – Great Quotes from the late great Bill McLaren (part 2 of 4)”

  1. “He’s like Bambi on speed.” What a description of one of Ireland’s greatest wingers. Commentators today cannot match the wit and the speed of his comments.

    Regarding “He could sidestep 3 men in a telephone box” would this be a welsh wizard, Barry John?

  2. … sidestep 3 men in a phonebox? Barry John, yes, maybe. Definitely one of the Welsh greats from that era – think I’d go for Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies or the phenomenal Phil Bennett.

    Well, no dancing in the streets of Hawick tonight but Scotland were unlucky to lose by a 14 pt margin. Pity they couldn’t get over for that second try.

  3. @Rich – am not sure could be Jones, or @Brendan could be Phil Bennet or Gerald Davies who could also jink. I think the jink is dying in modern rugby – certainly the Welsh are trying to keep it alive – let’s hope it’s never lost. Anyone else know for sure who Bill was referring to when he said “He could sidestep 3 men in a telephone box” ?
    Who would even think, let alone say, something like this on live TV? The Late Great Bill McLaren did!

  4. Just discovered this site… I recall that a touch kick from one great home nation full back possibly Gavin Hastings or Paul Thorburn (?) was described as being ”like a siege gun..”

    I recall that Bill M often used the phrase ”now did ye notice..” when he was getting comment from Beaumont and referred to modern rugby boots as ”carpet slippers” ….Brings back such fond memories of watching 5 nations as it was then with my old man..priceless

    • Brilliant Jasen I’d forgotten ‘did ye notice?’ which was such a great way of grabbing your attention and generating the option for something trivial or intriguing. No matter what it was – you couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say whenever he said that! Re carpet slippers he’s right. I reckon that’s why there are so many metatarsal injuries since many boots – particularly football boots are so thin they offer no protection whatsoever.
      ‘Siege Gun’ – a gem. Thanks v much Jasen, keep them coming. Don’t forget, firstly, there’s lots of rugby stories (scroll down the right hand side to see ‘rugby’ in the categories) and secondly, there are 4 separate posts containing Bill’s Quotes. Please do pass the word on so many more people can enjoy the spirit of the late great Bill McLaren.

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