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

Some made you laugh, some made you cry and most of them made you feel the excitement, intensity, chivalry and sheer sportsmanship of international rugby at the highest level. This is Part 4 of 4 posts about the late great Bill McLaren, known as the voice of rugby, he  simply had a wonderful way of painting pictures with words


Lineout Jumping (Continued)

“Wade Dooley the big Blackpool policeman standing like a lighthouse at the back of the lineout”
On Doddie Weir (and told by Doddie) “Doddie Weir as much help as a lighthouse in the desert ”

On another lineout jumper “Jumping like a border salmon in a river”



“The balls as slippery as a wet trout”

“I tell ye, that ball’s like a bar of soap down there.” After a ball was knocked on


Bill McLaren
Bill Commentating

Absolute Classic McLaren

“He can smell a try like a forest animal”

“The All Blacks that day looked like great prophets of doom.”

“And it’s a try by Hika the hooker from Ngongotaha.” (Wales v New Zealand 1980).
I think he also described trying to tackle Jonah Lomu as trying to tackle a snooker table

“I’ve seen bigger legs hanging out of a crow’s nest”

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


Bill McLaren, the great rugby commentator, playing golf
Bill McLaren was a rugby player, PE teacher, commentator, golfer and a sportsman

Looking Back
When asked what was the best thing in his view about 50 years of commentary at rugby matches.

“I’ve hardly ever had to pay to get in.”

“A day out of Hawick is a day wasted.”

Bill McLaren, PE Teacher
Bill McLaren was also a PE Teacher

Bill McLaren was also a PE teacher. One of his students, George Thorburn, told me he often said “Last out of the changing room gets three strokes of the cricket bad”

“But I got it last week Sir?” says George.

“Well make sure yer no last next week!”



Finally – in terms of sportsmanship, Bill was magnificent. When hearing a crowd booing a kicker and the kicker kicked successfully, he’d often say “A just response to that ill-mannered whistling”.

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 2 has quotes about Big Guys and Runners  (15 x Quotes)

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

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

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

Please add a comment on this blog on  (a) any quotes you recall and (b) what Bill’s commentaries meant to you.  Please also pass on and share this link  to rugby fans and sports fans worldwide – to young and old. Thank you.  Paul Smith


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

  1. One great commentary I recall from Bill McClaren was a game at Twickenham I think against Scotland when Dr Jonathon Webb Englands fullback at the time lined up to take a kick from almost on the touchline at an acute angle. Bills commentary when like this. Dr Jonathon Webb lines up to take a penalty. ”He srikes the ball with clinical precision as you would expect from a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.” I have enjoyed reading your excellent blog and hope this contribution assists in some small form. Whenever I hear Bills name mention I feel better for it. He was and still is ”My voice of rugby”. Cheers from Swedish Lapland Alvsbyn Norbottens land. Regards David Watling.

    • Fabulous Neville. That one triggers the memory and the ‘slight anxiety’ if you were standing under one of those ones!!!! Nice one.

  2. One of our favourites was “burrowing like a giant mole” that Bill would use to describe a large forward’s efforts in a maul.

    Also, I think it has been suggested that the quote about sidestepping three people in a phone box was Bill’s description of David Duckham. While this may be true, my recollection is that Bill would describe this player in terms of his flowing blond locks, and that the sidestep quote referred instead to Phil Bennett.

    • Superb Phil – ‘burrowing like a giant mole’ – you can hear Bill McLaren saying that with intensity and excitement. Re phone box – I think you may be correct there. Will check before I issue next year’s 6 Nations Fixtures, previous results & Bill McLaren Quotes in Jan 2018 –
      it’ll be on the blog. Perhaps sign up for the auto email alert (whenever we post a new story – about 10 new stories a year)? Meanwhile, many thanks for your info. BTW, you can actually hear Bill’s beautiful voice in his last interview here http://tinyurl.com/7spt7cx plus a beautiful piece written by his daughter, Linda, for the Great Sportsmanship programme. Pls do share it with as many as you can. Thx again.

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