Tributes paid to former Hawick and Scotland rugby prop Norman Suddon following death at age of 78

Tributes have been paid to Hawick rugby stalwart Norman Suddon following his death at the age of 78.

Norman Suddon pictured in 2015 with son Keith, left, and grandson Daniel, right (Photo: Alistair Learmonth)
Norman Suddon pictured in 2015 with son Keith, left, and grandson Daniel, right (Photo: Alistair Learmonth)

Suddon, originally a lock but mostly a loosehead prop, made 13 appearances for Scotland between 1965 and 1970 and almost 280 for his home-town team in the 1960s and 1970s, later taking on coaching duties.

His international debut came at the age of 21 against Wales at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium in February 1965 and he went on to play for his country three further times that year, against Ireland, England and South Africa.

He was next capped in December 1966, helping defeat Australia 11-5 to follow up the Scots’ 8-5 victory over the Springboks the year before.

Norman Suddon pictured in 2015 with staff nurse Heather Barnes, nurse consultant Judith Smith and staff nurse Claire Hannah after raising £2,350 via an auction of rugby shirts for Macmillan Cancer Support to thank it for the care he'd received following his diagnosis with the disease two years previously

Suddon got his sixth and seventh caps in 1968, an 8-6 loss to England and a 9-3 defeat of Australia, both in Edinburgh.

Three further international appearances followed in 1969, including a 6-3 away win against France, plus games against Wales and Ireland.

The last of his baker’s dozen of caps came his way in 1970, against Ireland, England and Australia, the last, a 23-3 defeat in Sydney, being the first and only loss to the Wallabies of his international career.

Suddon also came within a whisker of joining Melrose’s Jim Telfer and Gala’s Jock Turner on the British Lions’ 1968 tour of South Africa, getting a call-up as a training reserve but not making it into the final squad.

Norman Suddon, second from left at front, with former Hawick players including Hugh McLeod, to his left; Derrick, Grant, Tony Stanger and Jim Renwick, left at the back; and Stuart Hogg, far right at the back (Photo: Kenny Baillie)

He was picked to play in a combined Scottish and Irish side against a joint English and Welsh team in 1971, though, to mark the 100th anniversary of the English Rugby Union and for the same multinational alliance the year after ahead of the Scottish Rugby Union’s centenary in 1973, as well as turning out for the Barbarians 16 times.

Closer to home, Suddon was a regular for South of Scotland, a precursor to the Southern Knights semi-professional side currently featuring his grandson Daniel Suddon, from the early 1960s onwards, taking on New Zealand in 1963 and Australia in 1966.

He was captain for that latter game, a 13-0 win at Hawick’s Mansfield Park, and also for the Greens for the 1966-67, 1970-71 and 1973-74 seasons, leading them to the new division one title that last time round.

Cavers-born Suddon, a knitwear factory boss by trade, also notched up numerous successes at rugby sevens and was part of the Hawick squad that won a record 10 titles in a row on the Borders circuit in 1966 and 1967.

Leading the many tributes paid to Suddon this week, a spokesperson for Hawick said: “After a tremendous 279 games for Hawick, Norman decided to hang up his boots. However, we are forever grateful that he felt he wanted to give something back to the game that had given him so much. He did this firstly by cutting his teeth as an inspirational and canny coach and ultimately serving for many invaluable years as a highly-regarded Greens selector and committee man, watching over and nurturing young talent at Mansfield Park.

“He was awarded an honorary life membership of Hawick for services rendered to the club both on and off the field.

“To have played his part in the great Hawick sides in both the 1960s and 1970s was no coincidence, and Norman will always be regarded as one of Hawick’s true greats.

“He was a quiet and unassuming family man who never craved the limelight but earned the utmost respect from all who met him.

“Norman took great delight in watching his son Keith and son-in-law Gregor Sharp playing for the Greens, together with grandson Daniel, currently plying his trade with Southern Knights.

“Hawick and everyone associated with the club would like to pass on our thoughts and sincere condolences to Norman’s wife Christine, son Keith and daughter Tracey, together with all their family on this very sad occasion.”

An SRU spokesperson added: “Scottish Rugby are saddened to learn of the death of former Scotland prop Norman Suddon.

“We extend our sincere condolences to all his family and many friends.”