Dougie Morgan, rugby figure

Born 9th March 1947

Died 4th April 2020

DOUGIE Morgan who has died aged 73 was a major figure in Scottish rugby who made an outstanding contribution as player, coach and manager. A combative scrum half, he was capped 21 times for Scotland between 1973 and 1978 and was captain during the Five Nations’ Championship in 1978. In 1977 he toured New Zealand with the Lions making two Test appearances and he also represented the Barbarians

At club level his career spanned 20 years initially with Melville College F.P's and from 1973 with Stewart’s Melville F.P's, following amalgamation. He also excelled at ‘7’s’ in many ‘Stew-Mels’ triumphs, including the prestigious Melrose and Middlesex tournaments.

He had a deep love of the game and a burning desire to win. An expert kicker, he constantly sought to gain an edge over his opposite number. Thorough knowledge of the game and effective communication skills launched his later successful coaching and managerial career.

A talented cricketer he was an excellent all-rounder for Melville and ‘Stew-Mels’. In 1968 he was 12th man for Scotland at Lords against the M.C.C. and once notched a record 154 n.o. in the East League.

Douglas Waugh Morgan was born in Edinburgh, eldest of three sons of George and Catherine nee Lamb. With brothers Alastair and Colin he was brought up in a rugby-oriented household. Father George, company secretary of Jenner’s department store for almost 40 years, had also been a scrum half for Melville F.P's and Edinburgh. The family lived in the Duddingston area and between 1952 and 1965, Dougie attended Melville College where he shone at sport and was Head Boy.

He was in the 1st XV for three seasons and was captain in his final year when he also captained the cricket and hockey XI’s and won awards for swimming and athletics, a sporting polymath. Adding to his sporting laurels he later became a single handicap golfer at the Royal Burgess, having begun playing during North Berwick family holidays.

At school he received encouragement from games’ masters Bob Fleming and future international referee Jake Young while his father’s enthusiasm and knowledge of scrum half play helped Dougie’s development.

After school he joined the F.P’s. for whom he soon became a mainstay of the 1st XV in which he was undoubtedly the star of the show in an under-performing side. Loyalty kept him at Ferryfield rather than leaving for better prospects elsewhere with his performances leading to selection for Edinburgh in the late 1960s. His tenacious displays led to captaincy of the combined Edinburgh/Glasgow team against the All Blacks in 1972 followed by his international debut against Wales at Murrayfield a year later. Earning a cap while playing in a weak club side spoke to the lofty standard of his own play. In direct opposition that day was Gareth Edwards the world’s best scrum half whom he harried relentlessly to help secure a memorable victory.

After the ‘Stew-Mels’ amalgamation of 1973 he was pivotal in the club’s rise to top league status along with fellow international Ian Forsyth and several sets of brothers including Brewsters, Calders, Scotts and others. Although in the amateur era his attitude was professional.

Jim Calder recalled: "He was a very inspiring figure with total self-belief who set high standards which everyone bought into. A natural captain, he prepared well for every game and was a great influence on all of us, he really was ahead of his time.”

When his international career finished after the 1978 Calcutta Cup game his club rugby continued. In ‘7’s’ he won nearly all the Border tournaments, the Melrose success of 1979 giving particular pleasure after two previous final defeats. In 1982, aged 35 and against the odds, he led ‘Stew-Mels’ to victory in the Middlesex ‘7’s at a packed Twickenham against favourites Richmond, celebrating the final whistle with a spontaneous handstand. His "predatory instincts" were praised in the press. He also played in the Melrose final in 1983 but lost to the French Barbarians, Serge Blanco and all.

After hanging up his boots he began coaching initially with Edinburgh then became involved with the national set up contributing to the 1990 Grand Slam and Scotland reaching the 1991 World Cup semi-final. In 1993 he became Scotland coach initially with limited success but in 1995 led the team to a Grand Slam decider after overseeing Scotland’s famous win in Paris, their first in 26 years. Following a World Cup quarter final place that season he moved into team management rising to national manager before retiring in 2003. Many warm tributes have been paid to him from celebrated rugby figures.

On 28th March 1970 in Edinburgh he married Doreen Cowper, originally from Montrose, a chiropodist, whom he had met socially through rugby. They initially lived in Corstorphine before moving to Barnton and enjoyed a long happy marriage during which they had two daughters, Mandy and Nicola. Dougie became a chiropodist himself, based for many years in Jenner’s where Doreen replaced him while he was away on tours. He and Doreen were a great partnership, family and rugby being his dual passions.

He is survived by his wife, daughters, brothers, sons in law, Graham and David and grandchildren Charlie, Lois, Josh and Nathan.