My first encounter with the legend that was Hugh McLeod came early in my journalistic career when reporting on a Hawick AGM in 2001 or there about.
He and two or three other elderly gentleman came in to the room and made there way purposefully down the hall to position themselves a couple of seats back from the top table.
Of course I knew who he was, everyone brought up in Hawick did. A true legend of rugby, having made his international debut in 1954 and won 40 consecutive caps for his country.
What I didn’t know, certain naivety on my part, was that even in his 70s the former Hawick, Scotland and Lions prop was as passionate about the game, and in particular his club, as ever.
I can’t remember who the official party at the top table were on that particular occasion, Messrs Barnes, Froud and Bell could have been in situ, but Hugh let them have it. On this occasion the issue was bringing ‘professional’ players into the team and, as I was to learn in the ensuing years, Hugh’s strong opinions were often vented in this manner. He was a man who was never afraid to say what he thought or who he said it to.
Bearing this in mind it was with some trepidation that I actually met the man in person for the first time. My fears were soon laid to rest however. Passionate and outspoken he way have been but Hugh was also a true gent with an underlying sense of humour and a great knowledge of the game of rugby.
I spoke to him on very few occasions after that, usually when I needed to pick his brains about past encounters, and he was always most helpful and genuine in his responses.
Despite his outbursts at the AGMs Hugh was on the whole a quite and modest man who kept up a great interest in the club and its players right to the end and was rewarded by the great respect given to him in return.
His death on Monday was received with great sadness in the Borderers rugby community and beyond and condolences go to his family from all here at the Southern Reporter.