As a player, he represented Scotland and the British Lions at international level. He was capped 60 times for Scotland, the vast majority of times in his preferred position of fly-half, but on occasion at centre and once as a substitute on the right wing. He was noted for his tactical kicking, game management and also for being a solid tackler, something fly halves of the time were not noted for in the amateur days of rugby.
He finished his playing career in March 2005 as captain and player-coach with Melrose, where his club career began. In the interim, he also played for Worcester Warriors, Harlequins, and the Pertemps Bees.