Rugby internationalist and businessman

Rugby internationalist and businessman

Born: March 17, 1925; Died: August 24, 2014

DOUGLAS Muir, who has died aged 89, was a Scotland rugby internationalist turned successful international businessman.

He attended George Heriot's School in his native Edinburgh before joining the Army during the Second World War and attaining the rank of Captain with the Gurkhas.

On demob, he briefly worked as a labourer in the maltings at Fountainbridge Brewery before joining William Thyne & Company, the well-known Edinburgh packaging company, whose premises were then located behind Meadowbank Stadium.

He won the first of his seven Scotland caps in the Murrayfield international against France in January 1950. He was one of seven new caps in that match, paired in the second row with another newcomer, Robin Gemmill of Glasgow High School FP. The Scots won 8-5 and the tyro second row pairing held their places for the three remaining internationals of the 1950 Five Nations.

There were defeats to Wales at St Helen's in Swansea and Ireland, at Lansdowne Road, 0-12 and 0-21 respectively, before another Herioter, Tom Gray, goaled his legendary last-minute conversion to secure a 13-11 win over England in the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield.

Muir was not capped at all during the 1951 season, but he was recalled for the visit to Cardiff to face Wales, on February 2, 1952. The Welsh won 11-0, but The Herald's rugby correspondent, in his match report, wrote: "In the Scottish pack none surpassed the re-instated pairing of HM Inglis and DE Muir."

That Cardiff loss was match number five in Scotland's dreadful run of 17 straight defeats and Muir was retained in the team for losses number six, 8-12 to Ireland in Dublin, and seven, a 3-19 Calcutta Cup defeat at Murrayfield.

Scotland did lose, but Muir emerged with credit from both defeats. The Herald's man inside Lansdowne Road wrote: "The only members of the pack who played consistently well were DE Muir and JC Dawson."

Of the Murrayfield hammering, from an England team containing such Saxon legends as hooker Eric Evans and wing-forward John Kendall-Carpenter, The Herald's man wrote: "Muir did much good work, but his play included an element of wildness", while his part in some unexpected line-out successes for the smaller Scots pack was also mentioned.

He was invited to join the Barbarians in 1949, while he also represented Edinburgh.

That Calcutta Cup outing was his final cap, as his burgeoning career with William Thyne & Co began to take up more of his time. Muir had joined the company as a management trainee in 1948, and he was to rise to become managing director by the time Thyne's moved to a new factory on the Sighthill Industrial Estate, which the Duke of Edinburgh opened in 1957.

In 1971 when Thyne's was taken over by Mardon Packaging, a division of the giant British-American Tobacco conglomerate, Muir moved to Bristol as divisional chairman of the packaging division, a high-flying role which saw him overseeing companies in Scotland, England, France and Germany.

He remained in this post until his retirement in 1986. Throughout his business career, he continued to have an interest in rugby.

After hanging up his boots, he was for a time a Scotland selector, while, in his business capacity, he purchased a considerable number of Murrayfield Debentures on behalf of his business and provided jobs for promising young Herioters.

For instance, he recruited the young Ken Scotland and Eddie McKeating to Thyne's; Scotland stayed for one month before moving on, McKeating spent more than 20 years with the company.

He conducted some business on the golf course, but, as a confirmed member of the tight five Union of Donkeys, he was, above all else, a rugby man when it came to sport.

In retirement, he continued to live in the Bristol area, but every year he would return to Edinburgh for the home Five and Six Nations matches and to attend Heriot's reunions. Some seven years ago, he moved to Guernsey, where his daughter was living and running her own business.

Muir, who passed away in his sleep whilst visiting his son in Essex, was married to Isla, who pre-deceased him in 2011.

He is survived by son Brian, daughter-in-law Rachel; daughter Ruth and son-in-law Mark; grandchildren Nick, Angus, Annabel and Lucy and great-grandson Alexander.