John Jeffrey

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For other people named John Jeffrey, see John Jeffrey (disambiguation).
John Jeffrey
Date of birth (1959-03-25) 25 March 1959 (age 58)
Place of birth Kelso, Scottish Borders
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1984–1991  Scotland 40 ((44))

John Jeffrey (born 25 March 1959 in Kelso in the Scottish Borders) is a Scottish former international rugby union player. His nicknames are "The Great White Shark" and "JJ", the former widely thought to be because of his blonde "thatch of hair", though in a recent book called 'The Grudge' by Tom English, it is a nickname that was given to him because of his very white skin.[1]

Richard Bath has described him as "one of the most galvanising sights in Five Nations rugby throughout the 1980s and early 1990s."[1]

Jeffrey was educated at St. Mary's School, Melrose and Merchiston Castle School.[2] He won forty caps for Scotland between 1984 and 1991, making him, at the time, Scotland's most capped flanker. He was also a British and Irish Lion with Scotland team mate Finlay Calder in 1989.

Jeffrey's "day job" was his Borders farm, of which he had only one regret: "If I stand on a hill I can see England."[1]


Invariably first to the breakdown point, first with the tackle, or first with an inspired counter, Jeffrey had the ability to score important tries, of which he scored 11, another Scottish record at the time, shared with back-row colleague Derek White. He was also a member of the British Lions on the tour to Australia in 1989.

In 1988, after playing football with the Calcutta Cup along Princes Street in Edinburgh with England's Dean Richards, Jeffrey received a six-month ban from the Scottish Rugby Union.[3] Richards received just a one match sentence from the English Rugby Football Union.[1] The trophy was severely dented, and cost hundreds of pounds to repair.

During the 1990 Hong Kong Sevens, Jeffrey played for the Scottish side, but when they were knocked out, he went on to play for Wales as they were suffering from too many injuries.

Scottish Grand Slam (1990)[edit]

He was an outstanding performer in the Grand Slam season of 1990 (he was the one who started the move from the scrum that led to Gavin Hastings's famous kick to Tony Stanger, sealing the victory against the English), Jeffrey had been a British Lion on the 1989 Tour of Australia, ironically being kept out of the Test side by his national team-mates Finlay Calder and Derek White, and Englishmen Mike Teague who would suffer for this indignity in the famous Calcutta Cup showdown a year later.

Coach and commentator[edit]

Recently[when?] he has been involved in coaching the Scotland youth teams and commentating at rugby games on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme.

When interviewed he came up with the memorable comment: "Scoreboards do not lie!"


He has been a member of the International Rugby Board (Now called World Rugby) Council and head of referees since 2010.


  1. ^ a b c d Bath, p141
  2. ^ "John Jeffrey handed Moredun honorary fellowship". The Courier. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  3. ^ McMurtrie, Bill. "Ban on Jeffrey over Calcutta Cup affair". The Glasgow Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)

External links[edit]