I know a few folk from the rugby hierarchy who will be turning in their graves – those that weren’t cremated that is – at the news that a woman has joined the ranks of the high heid yins in the hallowed boardroom of Murrayfield.
Legal eagle and staunch Melrose supporter Lesley Thomson will, on October 1, become the first female member of the Scottish Rugby Board. She honed her rugby management skills at the Greenyards where she ruled over the midis and played a prominent role on the general committee.
The appointment of a woman to the ruling body of the SRU is long overdue – and Lesley Thomson will certainly make her mark.
She is a formidable lady. I’ve seen her in action many times.
Not on the field of play, but in the courtroom. She is Scotland’s second-highest law officer, holding the position of Solicitor General. When she prosecuted at Selkirk Sheriff Court, I’ve seen hardened criminals quake, defence solicitors squirm and even sheriffs think twice about interrupting her when in full flow.
She is an expert in prosecuting serious, organised and financial crime. She put together the successful case against the sick villains in the notorious Miss X case here in the Borders. She has specific knowledge in how to nab proceeds of crime from those she has helped put behind bars and has written a book on that very subject: A Practical Guide to Confiscation of Crime Proceedings. It got a five-star rating and you get a used copy for £20 – or a new one for £53.99 on Amazon.
It takes a lot to surprise a lady of Ms Thomson’s stature. But I did it. Only once. I’d invited her and a certain local solicitor (Iain Burke) to speak at the Borders Press dinner. After the formal proceedings, we adjourned to the bar where he enjoyed some libations. And the surprise? Lesley didn’t know that Iain was an expert tap dancer. But she did after he was persuaded to tap away in the G&A in Melrose.
I welcome her appointment to the Scottish Rugby Board. Women have always played a role in the rugby – long before they took to the pitch. But mostly it was warming pies, making sandwiches and keeping the kettle on the boil. My late mum wore out a twin tub washing the 15 jerseys (no replacements then) of my colleagues in Gala Wanderers. She did the same with a tumbling version in the early days of the reborn Gala Star.
The Murrayfield blazer brigade ruled for too long without being challenged. A wind of change came when Bill Hogg took over as secretary and later chief executive.
His predecessor once wrote me a stuffy letter because I’d written a newspaper report on a match in which I’d played without obtaining his permission. I later got three more stuffy letters from Murrayfield in response to decisions by referees that I should leave the field.
More winds of change, some welcome, some less so, have blown through the Murrayfield corridors of power. More I know will follow. Because Lesley Thomson isn’t a woman to content herself with making tea and sandwiches. President Thomson?