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He played for his hometown club Penicuik, before moving to First Division Gala. He was the Gala Captain for their 3 League Championships in 1979/80, 80/81 and 82/83. His first cap for Scotland came at the age of 29 against England in 1977, but was then replaced by the legendary, 2-time Lion, Ian McGlaughlin because of concerns about his scrummaging. After working hard on his technique, he returned in 1981 and played 21 of the next 24 tests. He captained Scotland to victory against England at Twickenham in 83, Scotland's first win there since 1971. He played in Scotland's 25-25 draw against the New Zealand, still the closest that Scotland have ever come to beating the All Blacks.
The next season, Scotland won the Grand Slam under his guidance, scoring a crucial try against Wales to set up a winner-takes-all match versus France, which Scotland won 22–12. It was Scotland's first Grand Slam since 1925. He played one more game for Scotland against Romania before retiring with a Scotland Captaincy record of played 7, won 6, lost 1. A magnificent achievement to be remembered as one of Scotland's most successful ever skippers. In recent years he has been critical of the state of Scottish rugby, describing it as "a mess", particularly former Scotland coaching duo, Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer.
He underachieved at High School but graduated from Edinburgh College of Commerce. He is now a successful businessman, owning one of Scotland's largest grain merchants and having sold his previous company, Scotmalt, in 2003. In 2009, he donated £100,000 to the Conservative Party, becoming the second-largest donor to the Scottish branch of the party.
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