Ken Scotland 1936 – 2023

It is with great sadness that we relay the news of the death of Ken Scotland.

Born in 1936 Ken began his rugby journey at George Heriot’s School and, in addition to Heriot’s Rugby Club, also played rugby for Cambridge University and the Army.  Ken was capped 27 times by Scotland and toured with the British & Irish Lions to New Zealand in 1959.

Ken was a regular attendee at Goldenacre on Saturday afternoons continuing to support his club team until prevented by his recent ill health.  He was not only a great rugby player but a true gentleman who was known and loved by so many and will be truly missed.

We will be having a tribute fitting for a true great of Heriot’s and Scottish rugby on Saturday 21st January given by Andy Irvine at our pre-match lunch ahead of the Heriot’s Blues V Edinburgh Accies game and there will be a minute silence observed ahead of the game.

Our thoughts are with Ken’s wife Doreen and the rest of his family at this very sad time.

The memorial service is at Warriston Crematorium, Lorimer Chapel at 11am on Friday 20th January with the reception at the rugby clubhouse at Goldenacre afterwards.

Ken’s family have asked that people do not send flowers, rather make a donation in his memory to St Columbas Hospice, Edinburgh or My Name’5 Doddie foundation.

For those unable to attend the service there will also be a livestream via the link below:

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4 thoughts on “Ken Scotland 1936 – 2023”

  1. I first heard about the great Kenny Scotland in 1958 when I was 10. That was the year I was introduced to rugby and started to learn from our Games Master about this amazing Heriot’s and Scotland full-back. Whenever rugby practice was cancelled through bad weather, young Heriot boys were obliged to remain in school. We were never really disappointed about that as our rugby master regaled us with the incredible tales of Kenneth James Forbes Scotland. I bet Heriot boys were being told these stories right up until the 80’s When the master, D M Hastie retired .
    Kenny really was a superstar not just in the minds of Herioters of all ages but throughout the UK and indeed the whole rugby-playing world.
    When I was secretary of our club I had the great privilege of working with Kenny as our President in the early part of the noughties, the school 1st XV had a Sunday fixture with a team from Perth in Australia. The FP committee thought it would be a good idea to lay on a lunch for both sides and also their parents. I was standing at an upstairs bar window with one of the Perth dads, who happened to be a fellow from New Zealand originally. Away in the distance I could see Kenny coming along the path from the car park. The New Zealand dad suddenly said ‘ Is that Ken Scotland walking towards the club ?’ Yes I replied and he’s coming here. This New Zealander just could not believe it. He told me had listened to the first Test match on the radio between the 59 Lions and the All Blacks with his dad in some logging station or other. As soon as Kenny came in I introduced the pair to each other and I can honestly say I had never seen our incredibly shy president so animated. The pair of them went through every move of that game. The New Zealander had only ever seen Kenny in newspaper pictures and the odd newsreel film from many years before. That dad I am sure will never forget that encounter.
    As a wee footnote and to demonstrate how humble Kenny was I was checking the pictures of all our Internationalists a few years ago and when I got to Kenny I noticed the picture framer had named him thus: K F J Scotland not KJF Scotland. I pointed this error of nearly 40 years out to Kenny and he said he had never even noticed the mistake . Take a look next time you are down at Goldenacre

  2. Such very sad news. A number of my generation will remember being coached by Ken during the late 1970s and, indeed, some of us were lucky enough to play a game with Ken. In March 1978, the 3rd XV had travelled down to play in Gala only to find that the Gala Star XV had already travelled up to Edinburgh. We dashed back to Goldenacre but didn’t have our full back, who had travelled independently, and so, at very short notice and now in his 40s, Ken stepped in to fill the vacancy. The Gala Star stand off didn’t recognise our full back and rather foolishly thought he’d pepper him with high balls and move him around with kicks to the corner. Needless to say, Ken’s positioning was near perfect and he took all the balls with aplomb either running them back or returning them with interest. We won the game and I have been telling the story ever since about the day I had the privilege to play rugby with one of Scotland’s greatest ever players, the now late, great Ken Scotland. RIP Ken and condolences to his family.

  3. I played in that game with Gordon and well remember the Gala boys saying kick it to the “old boy” and then very quickly “don’t kick it to the old boy”. Ken’s timing of the pass and tackling were impeccable. He took out Don Ledingham on the wing, who was on the rise and became a 1XV Gala and South winger, that had the Gala boys gasping – “who is that guy?”
    I was also priviledge to be coached by Ken when he said the hardest position he’d had to play was as a scrum half on the Lions tour.
    He was also the first person to congratulate me when I was elected President.
    Such a loss but grateful for having known him.

  4. As a young 18 year old fresh out of Heriots School I had the amazing privilege of playing alongside Ken Scotland in the Heriots FP junior teams for the first few months after leaving school. His constant encouragement and sound advice during all of these matches had a profound effect on me both as a player and personally.
    To be playing alongside a world class former Scotland rugby player was such an unforgettable experience.
    Sadly the world has lost not only an amazingly talented rugby player but a true gentleman in every sense of the word.
    I too am so grateful for having known him and my condolences go to his family.

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