Born: February 14, 1933;

Died: October 6, 2020.

TOMMY McClung, who has died aged 87, was a talented and highly regarded Scottish rugby internationalist who won nine caps between 1956 and 1960 at centre threequarter and stand-off while playing for Edinburgh Accies.

Had it not been for injuries and possible involvement in “high jinks”on a Scottish team flight from South Africa, that total would probably have been greater.

He also represented the Barbarians four times, played in a winning Cambridge University team in the Varsity match, was a regular for Edinburgh District, which he captained occasionally, and was a member of the Edinburgh Accies side which won the old unofficial championship in 1956 and shared the title a year later with Jedforest.

A noted tactical and place kicker, he had good hands and could beat opponents with a change of pace and powerful bursts.

In addition to his prowess on the rugby field he was a low-handicap golfer and a more than useful cricketer and curler. Although he took his sport seriously, he also enjoyed its social side and was a very popular figure whose congeniality and humility endeared him to many.

Thomas McClung was born in Edinburgh, the eldest child of Gilbert and Elizabeth, and he was brought up initially in Corstorphine with siblings Gilbert, Beth and Janet. His father was a successful potato merchant and farmer, who had once been a goalkeeper with Plymouth Argyle.

His early schooling was split between Edinburgh Academy and primary school in Girvan, where he had been evacuated with his mother, before returning to Edinburgh prior to attending Sedbergh School in Cumbria.

There, under headmaster J H Bruce Lockhart, a Scottish internationalist at rugby and cricket, Tommy excelled at both sports and was a member of the 1st XV and 1st XI. In his final year, 1950-51, the XV was undefeated, the school magazine recording that “special credit was due to McClung at fly half and centre for the excellence of his kicking…”.

On the cricket square he was an accomplished all-rounder whose highlights included excellent innings against the MCC of 39 and 62 not out.

On leaving Sedbergh, he went to study agriculture at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, for whom he played in their winning team at stand off in the 1954 Varsity match at Twickenham in front of 45,000 spectators. Although it was not a particularly memorable match, he had a decent game and won his Blue. While at Cambridge he also played cricket for his college.

After graduation he played briefly for London Scottish before returning to Edinburgh to resume playing for Edinburgh Accies, for whom he had played occasionally since 1951, Cambridge commitments permitting.

His return coincided with a successful spell for Accies with the unofficial title won in 1956 and shared the following year, while runners-up place was secured during the 1958/9 season when Tommy captained the team and was described in the Academical Chronicle as “undoubtedly the outstanding player of the season.”

A large part of that success was due to the effective combination of Tommy at stand off with scrum half Stan Coughtrie, also a Scottish cap and later a British Lion, while Tommy’s younger brother, Gilbert, performed well at centre.

His international debut took place against Ireland in 1956, when he notched two conversions. Thereafter he earned another eight caps, his final one against Wales in 1960, a year when he also went on a pioneering Scotland ‘mini-tour’ of South Africa, playing in a non-Test match against Griqualand West. During the return flight a prank allegedly involving Tommy and a deflated emergency liferaft occurred, much to the consternation of officialdom. Whether related or not, he was never capped again.

He continued playing for Accies and Edinburgh District for another two years, after which he mostly played lower XV rugby until 1969. He remained a popular and familiar figure at Raeburn Place, where he became Club President in 1984, always “the real enthusiast”, according to his son, Gilbert.

On his return to Edinburgh in 1955 he joined the family business, primarily involved in the potato-marketing aspect, while brother Gilbert took responsibility for the farming side. Together they further developed the successful business, sale of land at Swanston, Edinburgh facilitating purchase of farms in East Lothian and the Borders with two of the brothers’ sons entering the business.

In 1962 in Edinburgh Tommy married Marion nee Smith, then a secretary, with whom he went on to enjoy a long and happy marriage during which they had three children, Fraser, Gilbert and Celia. They lived mostly in the Murrayfield area, latterly in a property that afforded a view of the rugby stadium of fond memory. Their home was a popular venue for post-international parties where old teammates and opponents were regular attenders.

As a youngster he had enjoyed family holidays in Ayrshire where the business had interests, and came to love the countryside there as well as golf at Turnberry. Later he bought a small house in Maidens where his own family would spend holidays.

Away from business and family his interests were mostly sport-related, particularly golf.

He was a member of Turnberry and of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield while at his best he played off a five handicap.

He is survived by his wife, children, brother, sister Janet and eight grandchildren.