Bill McLaren: “The Voice of Rugby.”

Fellow Speaker,

On Monday I celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Today, just two days later, I find myself mourning the loss of one of Scotland’s favourite sons: Bill McLaren. Bill was a BBC legend, a rugby sports commentator sans compare, knowledgeable, passionate and totally unbiased over his 50 years of service. I never met the man in real life but like so many of you wish I had. Instead, I knew him through his television and radio commentary of international rugby, bringing the beautiful game to life with his fluent, vivid language: “As slippery as a baggy (a little fish) in a Border burn” – his poetic description of the then Scottish scrum-half Gary Armstrong. Quite simply for fortunate and successive generations Bill McLaren was “The Voice of Rugby.” Here is what Finlay Calder, Scottish internationalist, had to say on hearing of his death:

“He was “The Voice of Rugby,” and it was a beautiful voice as well, so easy to listen to. I think that was a huge part of his appeal.” (The Scotsman)

Despite the sadness I feel today I know there is so much as a public speaker to take from Bill’s life: his use of voice (gifted), his words and poetic description of play, his pace and pause in commentary, his overwhelming passion and the time he took in preparation. In death Bill McLaren reminds you and me of the key to success in public performance: God Bless “The Voice of Rugby.”

Bobby Livingston
Founder
The Speakers College

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1 Comment

Filed under learning, public speaking

One response to “Bill McLaren: “The Voice of Rugby.”

  1. I hadn’t appreciated that Bill had died until I read this. As a Scot, Bill WAS television rugby to me. His gravitas was a wonderful match for the grit of the game. There’s indeed much to take and learn from him!

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