Scotland rugby internationalist and businessman

Born: June 27, 1931;

Died: January 2, 2020.

GRANT Weatherstone, who has died at the age of 88, was a Scotland rugby internationalist in an era when the sport was strictly an amateur one.

Born in Edinburgh in June 1931, the young Thomas Grant Weatherstone was educated at Daniel Stewart’s College between 1939 and 1949 and very quickly demonstrated exceptional qualities on the sporting field, excelling in rugby union, tennis and athletics at school. He was Sports Champion in both 1948 and 1949, winning Scotland international honours in athletics in the Junior Long Jump.

Despite the honour of being named Scottish Junior Athletics Champion, Rugby Union was always his first love – he had captained the school First XV – and he made his debut for Stewart’s College FP as a winger in 1950. He captained the side in 1954-55 and again from 1956-58, leading them to success in the 1956 Melrose Sevens and earning representative honours with Edinburgh District.

At Inverleith, he was a popular club member and was the instigator of what is now a long-standing club tradition that underlines his true sportsmanship – that is, if a player won a ‘Sevens’ medal after replacing someone in another team (standard practice for ‘Sevens’ tournaments back in the day) – the medal would then be given to the injured player.

‘TG’ – as he perhaps inevitably was nicknamed – suffered a family tragedy in his early rugby union career when his mother died in a car accident en route to watching him play in Glasgow.

Weatherstone received full international recognition in the Calcutta Cup fixture on March 15, 1952 when he played for Scotland against England at Murrayfield alongside four other debutants, the visitors winning 19-3. One year later he scored his first try in the dark blue of Scotland at Twickenham. In a book on Scottish rugby history, this description is given: “After some further English pressure, Weatherstone broke away twice down the touchline. On the second run he crosskicked for Arthur Dorward to get possession and the ball went . . . back to Weatherstone who scored in the corner.” That ‘TG’ try was Scotland’s second of the afternoon, but England would win again, 26-8, before 60,000 spectators.

The winger became something of a regular in the national side but his first eight appearances over the next six years all ended in defeat, including the visit of the All Blacks to Murrayfield on February 13, 1954, New Zealand emerging victorious by the narrow scoreline of 3-0 courtesy of a second-half Bob Scott penalty in front of 50,000, with ‘TG’ twice coming agonisingly close to scoring a try.

A 0-6 loss to Ireland at Ravenhill, Belfast, two weeks later followed in what was a disheartening period for Scottish rugby, with 17 consecutive defeats between 1951 and 1955.

Weatherstone toured twice with the Barbarians but was denied the ultimate honour when selected as a member of the 1955 British Lions touring party to South Africa, only for injury to preclude his participation. He was the first Stewart’s College FP to be selected for the Lions.

His last appearance for Scotland before injury took its toll came at Stade Colombes, Paris, in January 1955 with France emerging victorious 15-0, the final game in the 17-match losing sequence.

It would be three years before the winger returned to international action, at Cardiff Arms Park in February 1958, with Wales winning 8-3, but that same month saw him finally experience success in his national team’s colours with a memorable 12-8 win over Australia before 45,000 at Murrayfield; the icing on the cake so far as he was concerned was his second try as the Scots came from behind to win. A third try followed in his next game, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, but the Irish won 12-6.

Three ‘Five Nations’ appearances in 1959 brought the curtain down on Weatherstone’s Scotland career. A second win was secured at Murrayfield against Wales, 6-5, and his final cap in dark blue came on March 21 in a 3-3 draw with England at Twickenham before a 70,000 audience.

In total, 16 Scotland international appearances – 14 of which were in the ‘Five Nations’ – had yielded two wins, two draws (both against England) and 12 losses. A recurring shoulder injury brought about his retirement from club rugby in the midst of season 1960-61.

Grant, when younger, had studied agriculture at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with a BSc, and worked initially in farm management for Rosebery Estates between 1954 and 1958, before joining British Oil and Cake Mills in animal feed field and development trials. In 1973 he set up an antique and reproduction furniture retail business in the Lake District with shops in Ambleside and Bowness- on-Windermere.

He retired from business in 1999. His wife, Cath, passed away in 2001.

He is survived by son Grant, daughter Claire, and grandchildren Rachael, Will, Kate and Gregor.

Robert McElroy