Sir Ian McGeechan is the only person in the history of the British & Irish Lions who has enjoyed success as both player and coach.
Born in Yorkshire in 1946 to a Glaswegian father, the diminutive playmaker was a rugby natural from an early age, spending his entire career at fly-half and centre with his home town team, Headingley.
After making his debut for Scotland in 1972, he won 32 caps over the next seven years, including six as captain. He also toured with the Lions in 1974 during their famously fierce 3-0 series win in South Africa, and again in 1977, during the 3-1 to defeat to New Zealand. In total he made eight Test appearances in the famous red jersey.
After retiring as a player – although not as a PE teacher – Ian took charge as Scotland coach from 1988 to 1993 and coached them to the famous 1990 Grand Slam and to fourth place in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
He also took the helm of the Lions touring side in 1989, steering them to a famous 2-1 series win over Australia. ‘Geech’ was again in charge for the tour of New Zealand in 1993, which the tourists lost 2-1, and again in South Africa in 1997, when the Lions triumphed 2-1. The latter was notable for the behind-the-scenes documentary, Living With Lions, which showed Sir Ian and fellow coach Jim Telfer inspiring the players. His final stint in charge of the Lions came in 2009, when they lost the series 2-1 to hosts and World Cup winners South Africa.
He tasted domestic success as a coach too. As director of rugby with Wasps, he took the London outfit to victory in the Powergen Anglo Welsh Cup in his first season. In his second, Wasps claimed the Heineken Cup, and in this third, they won the Premiership.
Sir Ian was awarded an OBE in 1990, and knighted in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List for his services to rugby.
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