Scottish rugby internationalist;
Born: May 30, 1933; Died: October 23, 2012.
George "Stevie" Stevenson, who has died aged 79, was one of the great Hawick and Scotland rugby three-quarters.
A natural, he was well-nigh uncoachable. At six foot two he was tall for the centre three-quarters of his era, but he was an artist, able to side-step – as he memorably did in scoring a spectacular solo try for a Scottish Districts XV against the touring Springboks at Hawick's Mansfield Park in 1965, and also fast enough to win occasional caps on the wing.
After Jim Renwick, who cited him as a hero and a major influence, Stevenson was Hawick's next most-capped centre; but the tall Stevenson and the stocky Renwick had other things in common. Both were renowned characters who played their rugby with a smile on their faces and would have been stars in any era.
Stevenson's attitude of there being more to life than rugby was perhaps best shown during Scotland's epic Murrayfield encounter with Avril Malan's mighty Springboks at Murrayfield in 1961. He and Eddie McKeating of Heriot's FP repeatedly chopped down the big, strong and fast South African centres as they threatened to over-run the smaller Scots, but, Stevenson still found time to infuriate his fellow "Teri", the great Hughie McLeod by informing him, 10 minutes into the game, that their girlfriends still had not taken their places in the stand.
McLeod, known as "The Abbot", was as serious about his rugby as Stevenson appeared flippant and he felt Stevenson should have been concentrating on the rugby, rather than the whereabouts of the girls.
As a player he combined elegant rugby – it was said he moved through the gears like a sports car – with sterling defence, as he so-memorably demonstrated against the 1961 Springboks, and what Hughie McLeod described as: "A winning outlook."
It was said he could and sometimes did, go over for a try carrying three unsuccessful defenders on his shoulders, while leaving another three in his wake, bamboozled by his side-step. He also took pride in getting as close to the posts as he could when scoring, to make the conversion easier for his side's place kicker.
Born and bred in Hawick, Stevenson left school to become an apprentice engineer, playing rugby for the semi-junior Hawick PSA, before graduating to Hawick Linden, then, in 1951, making his debut in the famous green jersey of Hawick. He was to be a fixture in that garb for the next 16 years.
He then made the next step up, to the South of Scotland team, before, on March, 17, 1956, winning his Scotland cap in the team which lost 6-11 to England at Murrayfield, and marking his debut with a try. He was to become a regular presence in the Scotland three-quarter line for the next six years, appearing in 19 of 24 internationals of that time – before falling out of selectorial favour, then returning for a final international flourish in 1963 and 1964 and his final international, in Paris, in 1965.
Stevenson was also a member of the Barbarians and part of the Scotland party that pioneered the short tour in South Africa in 1960, where in the days before replacements he bravely played on although badly handicapped by a groin injury sustained after just five minutes of the only Test match, in Port Elizabeth.
He was first and foremost a Hawick man and, along with McLeod, Derek and Oliver Grant was one of the stalwarts of the successful and high-scoring Green Machine of his era, coupling success in 15-a-side play with further glory on the Borders sevens circuit.
Following national service, he gave up engineering to join Bibby, the agricultural foodstuffs company, before joining Ballantine's the whisky distillers as a representative. This post took him away from Hawick and he settled in Currie, where he remained until his death, following a short illness.
George Drummond Stevenson is survived by his wife Jessie, son Mark, daughter Fiona and his grandchildren.
Hawick and Scottish rugby has lost a true legend.
His funeral will be held in the main chapel at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh, at 1pm on November 1.
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