BILL McLaren’s legacy will be etched further into history as plans were unveiled yesterday (Wednesday) for a multi-million pound museum of rugby in the Hawick commentator’s name.
His hometown will host the centre which will tell the story of its favourite game, and will include hours of recordings from McLaren’s time behind the microphone.
It is estimated the Bill McLaren Museum of World Rugby will require funding of between £3million to £4million to open it by 2014.
Bill McLaren Foundation director Alistair Moffat told TheSouthern the facility would aim to be a “world-class attraction”.
He added: “The idea is very simple – we want to tell the story of world rugby.
“We want to start from the proper origins of the game like the Jed Handba’ and the Eton wall game.
“The idea is married together with Bill’s legacy and the story of the game will be told through images and Bill’s description.
“BBC Scotland have been absolutely fantastic by giving us unfettered access to their archive without having to pay a penny piece for it.
“We believe this is something that will attract people from South Africa, New Zealand, the USA and the world.”
Moffat said the foundation, alongside Scottish Borders Council, has already received support from Glasgow Life, who helped deliver the city’s new £74m Museum of Transport.
And he added that no other destination was considered as a host for the facility.
He told us: “Bill’s voice is like tweed; rich, warm and textured, and it is absolutely of Hawick.
“There could be no more appropriate place for the museum, not Murrayfield or Twickenham.”
Although a location within the town has not yet been identified, Mr Moffat said a double-height building is needed in order to house a huge cinema-type screen.
“We want people to feel like they are walking into Murrayfield with the roar of the crowd and Bill’s voice,” added Moffat. “We also want to recreate stadiums such as Ellis Park, Twickenham and Lansdowne Road.”
McLaren’s daughter Linda Lawson added: “I have always said the archive and educational centre was a long-term objective, but we have been given this great opportunity.
“Dad was a man of Hawick and of the Borders, but his appeal was worldwide.
“He would have been mystified by this and never have expected it.”
Hawick historian Ian Landles – who is also a director of the foundation – said: “We are confident this will attract people to Hawick from all over the civilised world.
“Murrayfield would have loved to have had this museum, but they are not getting it. It had to be in Hawick and the town will get behind it 100 per cent because there is still a huge amount of warmth and pride for him.”
One of the foundation’s fundraising initiatives – a South of Scotland commemorative dinner featuring some of the region’s greatest rugby stars – still has tickets remaining.
The night will take place on Friday, June 24, at The MacDonald Cardrona Hotel, and will be attended by the likes of Craig Chalmers, Bryan Redpath, Norman Suddon, John Jeffrey, John Rutherford, Alistair Cranston, Peter and Michael Dods, and Keith Robertson.
On the night, master of ceremonies Ian Barnes will be joined by main speakers John Spencer, the ex-England centre, and Ross High president Scott Glynn.
Hawick band Scocha will entertain the audience, while footage from past South games will be shown as former players share their memories.
Tickets, priced at £50, can be obtained from foundation secretary John Thorburn on 07929 655132.