Tom Elliot

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Tom Elliot MBE
Full name Thomas Elliot
Date of birth 6 April 1926
Place of birth Galashiels, Scotland
Date of death 3 May 1998(1998-05-03) (aged 72)
Place of death Scottish Borders, Scotland
School Loretto School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Prop
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions

Thomas Elliot MBE (6 April 1926 – 3 May 1998) was a Scottish international rugby union player, who played for Scotland and the Lions.[1]

Early life[edit]

Elliot was born into a farming family in the Scottish Borders.[2] He was educated at St. Mary's School, Melrose and at Loretto School, Musselburgh.[2] After school he joined Gala RFC and played for the 2XV at lock.[2] He soon moved to loose-head prop and over the next fifteen years made the position his own.[2] Early in his career he gained a reputation for rumbustious play.[3] Bill McLaren described him as "a tough rugged son of the soil".[4]

Rugby career[edit]

Elliot made his debut for Scotland in the 1955 Five Nations Championship.[5] Scotland beat Wales 14-8 at Murrayfield.[6] His next match against Ireland resulted in another victory at the same venue.[6] Elliot also played in a narrow 9-6 defeat to England at Twickenham.[6]

In the 1956 Five Nations Championship he played all four matches.[6] Scotland won one match against France at Murrayfield.[6] The following year Scotland won two matches in the 1957 Five Nations Championship; Elliot played in every match.[6] He played two matches in the 1958 Five Nations Championship, losing to Wales and Ireland.[6] In between he played in a 12-8 victory over Australia at Murrayfield on their 1957–58 Australia rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland and France.[6]

Elliot was selected for the 1955 British Lions tour to South Africa, alongside his compatriot and fellow prop Hugh McLeod.[3] If it were not for the outstanding Meredith brothers from Wales, they would have played in the Test matches.[2][3] As it was Elliot played eight of the midweek games.[3] He also played for the Barbarian F.C..[3]


Elliot had farming interests in the Borders and Sutherland.[3] He was a former president of the Selkirk branch of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, and former president of the Borders area.[3] His animals often won championships at the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh, of which he became a director.[3] Elliot was also a past president of the Cheviot Sheep Society, member of the government's Hill Farming Advisory Committee and a director of the Moredun Foundation.[3] For his contributions to farming he was awarded an MBE in 1989.[2]


  1. ^ Bath, Richard (2007). The Scotland Rugby Miscellany. Vision Sports Publishing Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 1-905326-24-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Tom Elliot". The Times. 16 May 1998. p. 25. Retrieved 20 January 2016. Tom Elliot, MBE, Scottish rugby player and president of the Cheviot Sheep Society, died on May 3 aged 72. He was born on April 6, 1926. TOM ELLIOT was the epitome of the hard Borders prop forward of the 1950s. An amateur who loved his rugby, he was capped for Scotland 14 times and toured with the British Isles in South Africa in 1955. He was also a successful sheep and cattle farmer in the Borders, and he played an active part in the farmers' union and in farming politics at national level. Thomas Elliot was born into a Kelso farming family, attended the nearby prep school of St Mary's in Melrose, and went on to Loretto School. At school he was a useful lock forward and he also played in that position for the Gala 2nd XV. One day Gala were short of a loose-head prop, and Elliot moved up the scrum, a position he was to fill with distinction for the next 15 years. He was an automatic choice for Scotland between 1956 and 1958. He was one of those hard-working forwards who was seldom noticed and seldom gained the glory of scor ing a try but who scurried around the field with limitless energy. He looked the part. Beefy of build, tall and strong, he had a squashed nose (the result of "a wee altercation in the scrum") that gave a usefully intimidating appearance. Off the field he was as relaxed and friendly as one of his own lambs. The Scotland team had some formidable players at that time. It was captained by Jim Greenwood (an expert tactician), boasted Arthur Smith ("the flying Scot") on the wing and the young Ken Scotland among the backs. But in the boilerhouse of the scrum, Elliot partnered the pugnacious Hughie McLeod of Hawick in one of the great front-row combinations. Had Wales not then boasted two of the finest props ever seen - the Meredith brothers - there is little doubt that Elliot and McLeod would have played in the internationals in South Africa in 1956. The Lions won those tests, but Elliot and McLeod were left to add lustre to the midweek games. Elliot, though, was very much the amateur player. His business, about which he was passionate, was farming. His boundless care for his animals meant that they often fetched premium prices at market, and his abilities were recognised by his peers when they made him president of the Cheviot Sheep Society. He was a director of the Royal Highland Show, held annually at Ingelston, just outside Edinburgh, where he also exhibited cattle from his Blackhaugh farm, again often winning prizes. He became active in the farmers' union through his presidency first of his local branch, in Selkirk, and then by assuming the presidency for the entire Borders area. He was the local representative of the British Wool Marketing Board for many years, and for his contribution to farming and the countryside he was appointed MBE in 1989. Tom Elliot married Jennifer Mundell in 1960. She survives him, along with their son and two daughters. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Tom Elliot". The Herald (Glasgow). 12 May 1998. p. 18. Retrieved 20 January 2016. Tom Elliot, farmer and rugby internationalist; born April 6, 1926, died May 3, 1998 TOM Elliot was one of the great Scottish rugby internationalists of the post-war era. A mere 14 caps did small justice to his reputation as one of the strong men of his time. Even in this new age of giants and professionalism Tom would have stood his ground. Just over six feet tall and weighing 14st, the Border power, distilled on those hills which fashioned so many great rugby players, would have stood him in good stead. He began his education down the road from his father's farm at Blackhaugh, near Clovenfords, before moving on to that great nursery of rugby players, St Mary's in Melrose. From there he moved on to Loretto in Musselburgh. Academic qualifications may have been thin on the ground but the power of Elliot was never in doubt. On leaving school he joined Gala RFC. His early days were spent in the second row, but on one occasion the first team was short of a prop and he was moved up to fill a space at loose-head. He never looked back. The early days in the Border League saw him gain a reputation for rumbustious play. He won his first cap in 1956 and over the next three seasons represented Scotland with distinction. He played along with Norman "Bonzo" Bruce as his hooker and the legendary Hughie McLeod of Hawick on the tight head. That partnership forged a friendship which lasted a lifetime. In their days together McLeod and Elliot were renowned in their warm-ups for their pre-match wrestling. The two Scottish props were selected to tour with the British Lions in South Africa in 1955. They never made the Test team, having been kept out by the famous Meredith brothers from Wales, but they played in seven of the 17 games. That Lions team was one of the great touring parties of all time. Among the Scots who played were Arthur Smith, Jim Greenwood, Ernie Michie, and Angus Cameron. But Tom was not parochial. He made lasting friendships with Cliff Morgan of Wales, Tony O'Reilly of Ireland, and Jeff Butterfield of England. Tom also went on to play for the Barbarians. If rugby was a big part of Tom's life, farming was his livelihood. His livestock from the home base of Newhall and Blackhaugh were invariably at the top of the market. He was a past president of the Cheviot Sheep Society and over the years won many championships at the Royal Highland Show. He in later years became a director of the show and served with distinction. He was also active in the politics of farming, first as president of the Selkirk branch of the NFU, and then as president of the Borders area. His discussions with Ministers, and others of a political hue, were blunt and always to the point. He also served for many years as a member of the Government's Hill Farming Advisory Committee and as a director of the Moredun Foundation. In 1989 he was awarded the MBE. The Elliot farming enterprise spread well beyond the Borders, with a considerable interest in Sutherland. Balnakiel is the most remote farm in Scotland. It covers more than 20,000 acres stretching to Cape Wrath. He was always very conscious of the conditions his staff had to work with. In recent years he spent considerable sums in upgrading their cottages and making sure that they remained in touch with the world. He married Jennifer Mundell in 1960. She came from the Black Isle and over the years they proved to be an immense team, taking great pride in their large family. 
  4. ^ McLaren, Bill (1991). Talking of Rugby: An Autobiography. Hutchinson. p. 18. ISBN 009173875X. 
  5. ^ "Tom Elliot". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Tom Elliot - Match by Match". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 20 January 2016.