It is with much sadness and a heavy heart that we report Alastair Biggar – without doubt, one of the most talented players to pull on a London Scottish jersey – lost his battle against cancer and died on 6th February. He was 69.
Alastair was from Dalbeattie in Kirkcudbrightshire and followed his father Ken, also a notable rugby player, to school at Sedbergh having first been at St Mary's Prep School in Melrose.
He was a talented all-round sportsman whether on the Fives Court, on the cricket square where he gained his 1st XI Cricket Colours, as a hurdler (he broke the 100m hurdles school record by a distance) and on the rugby field as an immensely talented player. In the 1964 side he partnered Kim Bruce Lockhart in the centre, with John Spencer at fly half, a future England centre and with whom he later toured as a British and Irish Lion (more below).
Alastair was in the famous 1965 Scottish Schools team that beat their English counterparts 57-0. In the team, four of them went on to play international rugby – Alastair, John Frame, Duncan Madsen and Colin Telfer, who captained the side.
After school, he joined London Scottish in 1966, playing with other Club “greats” including Iain Laughland, Jim Shackleton, Tremayne Rodd, Charlie Hodgson, Stewart Wilson, Frans ten Bos and Sandy Hinshelwood. He continued to play for the Club for over ten years.
He was capped twelve times for Scotland between 1969 and 1972. This included the famous triumphs over England in 1971 at Twickenham and seven days later at Murrayfield for the Centenary match. He also played for the Barbarians and toured with them to South Africa in 1969.
He was part of the victorious British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 1971, which was managed by another great London Scot, Doug Smith. He scored nine tries in ten matches, including a hat-trick against Marlborough / Nelson Bays. It is worth remembering no other Lions side has won a test series in New Zealand.
He played in the centre for London Scottish but for Scotland it was eleven times on the wing and once at centre. He played on the wing for the Lions.
His cousin was Mike Biggar, who also played for Sedbergh, London Scottish and Scotland.
He was a truly naturally gifted and talented rugby player and in his prime and in full flight (he was 6’ 2 and weighed just over 14 stone) was like a thoroughbred racehorse – fast, powerful and a pure joy to watch.
He was inducted into the London Scottish Hall of Fame in 2009.
Our thoughts go to his wife Christine and his three children, Mark, Nicola and Emily.
His funeral service will be at 12 noon on Wednesday 24th February in Cerne Abbas Church, near Dorchester.
Chris Rea – Scotland and the British and Irish Lions
Al was one of the most naturally gifted players I have ever seen. We toured New Zealand together with the 1971 Lions, and in any other Lions team Al, who was in the shape and form of his life, would have been an automatic selection for the tests, but with all- time greats like Gerald Davies and David Duckham in residence, he had to settle for the midweek side. It was a role he undertook with unflagging enthusiasm and unfailing good grace. He was one of the most popular members of the party.
Ron Wilson – London Scottish and Scotland.
Such a great guy and an exceptionally skillful player. What a privilege to have been his team-mate for so many years – totally all round nice guy.
John Fraser – Captain of London Scottish in their Centenary year
Alastair was the most talented player I ever played rugby with on a pitch – and that includes the opposition !
Alan Lawson – London Scottish and Scotland
Al was a great player – so much talent
Two fond memories – my first sighting was Al playing in a Scottish trial at Murrayfield and he shot through a gap between two defenders at such pace both players tackled each other !
Second when I was captain we were playing Bath at Richmond and he rang me early afternoon saying his son Mark had had a fall and “I'm taking him to hospital – I may be a bit late but hopefully be there before half time”.
Right enough we started with 14 men and Al turned up half an hour in to the game which we won !
A wonderful team mate and great rugby bloke.
Mike Biggar – London Scottish and Scotland
In the last few days, I have had numerous calls from Old Sedberghians, who knew Alastair – here are some of their observations : “Bucket Loads of Talent “; “He was the original Cool Guy”; “He made everything look effortless”; “He was Poetry in Motion”; “He had style and unfailing modesty” “Such an Athlete” – these comments say it all.
Gavin Hastings – London Scottish, Scotland and the British and Irish Lions
Alastair was a real character and a wonderful ambassador for London Scottish and Scottish Rugby. To score nine
tries for the Lions on their ’71 Tour to NZ is a testament to his exceptional rugby pedigree and showed what a truly
great player he was. He will be remembered fondly by all those who knew him
Alastair McHarg – London Scottish and Scotland
In 2009 I was given the privilege of introducing Alastair into the London Scottish Hall of Fame.
It was an honour for me as I viewed Alastair as a very special talented rugby player and a great team mate at Club and International level.
So taking a quote from Nelson Mandela: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be Brilliant, Gorgeous, Handsome, Talented and Fabulous ? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Alastair Biggar was all of that.