Rugby player; Born April 9, 1969; Died July 24, 2008

Gordon Mackay, who has died aged 39 after suffering a suspected heart attack at his home in Glasgow, was regarded by all who saw him take the field as one of the most exciting rugby players of his generation.

Dynamically powerful, with an acute awareness of where the try-line was throughout a distinguished playing career, the suddenness of his death at such an early age means he will always be remembered by the Scottish rugby community as he was in his prime.

The former Scotland Under-21 and Scottish Schools international was accurately described in the Scottish Rugby Union's tribute to him as a "rumbustious back-row forward". Friends readily confirm that he lived life off the field as he played on it.

"As a 17-year-old, while still at school, he came and played a game for Glasgow Accies and he was incredibly abrasive possibly the most explosive kid I'd ever seen," recounted John Beattie, the former Accies, Scotland and British and Irish Lions player. "He was similar in his approach off the pitch, a larger-than-life character who went about things with real gusto."

Having been schooled at Glasgow Academy, Mackay began with Glasgow Accies. Following a brief spell with Stirling County in the mid-nineties he returned to Anniesland and played for Glasgow Hawks, where he was a member of the team that won the national second division title and the Scottish Cup in the club's inaugural season of 1997-98. Typically, he got on the scoresheet during their win over Kelso in the final at Murrayfield.

During that remarkable season after the Hawks were formed in 1997, through a partnership between Glasgow Accies and GHK, he experienced another career highlight when they played host to and defeated European rugby's leading club Toulouse at Old Anniesland.

Mackay had also represented Glasgow at district level before rugby went open in 1995 and he made an appearance as a replacement in the team's first-ever cross-border cup tie, a victory over Welsh club Newbridge in the European Conference in 1996. In all, he played 17 matches for the Glasgow pro-team during the first three seasons of professional rugby in Scotland while he also had a spell playing in Lyon in France before serious injury ended his playing career. He won his Scotland under-21 cap against Wales at Ayr's Millbrae in 1990, having previously represented Scottish Schools against their French counterparts in Poitiers in 1986.

Mackay's passion for the sport continued into retirement and last season, alongside Donald Reid, he took over the coaching duties at Glasgow Accies, making a significant impact as they steered the club clear of relegation from Scottish Hydro Electric National League Division Two.

He was a central figure in their preparations for the coming season, which were well under way. Glasgow Accies' rugby chairman Gordon Wilson said of him: "The leadership given by Gordon was immense and the club is determined that the groundwork laid by Gordon and Donald will take the club forward this coming season."

For several years - until recently, when they sold the business - he and his wife Irenne also ran the Jelly Hill coffee shop in Glasgow's West End, and he was also involved in property development.

He is survived by his wife as well as their sons, Sandy and Archie. BY Kevin Ferrie