At 6ft 3in and weighing more than 14st, Douglas Elliot was one of the most impressive back-row forwards to grace a Scottish rugby pitch.
The Borders farmer – also known as WID Elliot – played with Edinburgh Academicals from 1947 to 1954. Over the same period, he gained 29 caps for Scotland, seven of them as captain.
This wasn’t the finest period in Scottish rugby history as the team lost a record 17 games in a row, including a 44-0 humiliation by South Africa. But Douglas’s ability, strength and determination made him an outstanding figure. He was the only Scot to be mentioned for his abilities by South African rugby correspondent RK Stent, who named him as one of the best players on the field despite that heavy defeat.
In 1951, Douglas’s performance was a major part of Scotland’s 19-0 win over a Welsh side made up almost entirely of British & Irish Lions. And in 1954, he was captain of the team who, although they failed to score, held the mighty All Blacks to a single penalty goal for an uncharacteristic 3-0 victory.
Although invited to play with the British & Irish Lions in 1950, he was committed to working his Middletoun farm and could not take the six months required to tour with the team.
His commitment was summed up by the ‘voice of rugby’, the late Bill McLaren, who said: “Prior to one Scottish game against Wales at Murrayfield, [Elliot] attended a brief team get-together on the Friday afternoon… he drove back the family farm some way out of Edinburgh, and the car ran out of petrol four miles from home. He ran home for petrol and back to the car, then did some shearing and other farmwork before dark, was up with the lark because a field drain had to be repaired, then took off for Murrayfield just in time for kick-off. What’s more, Scotland won!"
Douglas’s death in 2005 aged 81 was marked by a minute’s silence before a Six Nations match at Murrayfield. He was inducted into the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017.
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