Ian Barr at Memories Group

Memories Group Welcomes Ian Barr

Monday 02 March 2020

Report by Hamish McIntyre

Bert Lawson welcomed Ian Barr to the meeting as  the guest speaker at the Memories section of Linlithgow Rugby Club.

Ian Barr (left) is Vice President of Scottish Rugby

There were sixty two members in attendance. Ian is a life long member of Lasswade Rugby Club, and is the current Vice President of the Scottish Rugby Union. He also played at Musselburgh. He is a farmer located just outside Bonnyrigg and, being a farmer, rugby was obligatory. He played at school ,where he was captain, played for the County side,  and then Lasswade, also known as the Esk Valley Rovers.

He also played for West of Scotland, Stirling, the young farmers, Edinburgh Accies and the police – the latter came in handy when he was practising as a boy racer and had his collar felt. He knew the guys who were in the car. One of his schoolmates was Calum MacDonald who wrote the music and was the drummer of Runrig.

Ian was a student at Oatridge Agricultural College where a certain Northern Irishman was one of the tutors – “what a fantastic guy he was” said Ian as Des Martin walked into the room!

While playing for  Musselburgh he sustained a serious injury, which ended his career at that level and he ended up going back to Lasswade. He then took up a role of teaching the younger players, and then coached the senior team at Lasswade. He then became a development officer going into high schools and fronting the after-school coaching.

His career then followed as Director of Rugby and later on as President of Lasswade – for fifteen years –  after which he took on what he thought was a small project to create a viewing gallery to attract sponsors, and move the pitch slightly, which evolved into a large project to build a new pitch and sports facility. This involved four years of very hard work.  

 Allan Williamson, originally from Hawick, was headmaster at Lasswade High School, and Allan together with the education department of the SRU were instrumental in creating an elite school of rugby. Rugby is now on the school curriculum, as part of the higher certificate in PE. Ian Moodie who plays for Southern Knights and Jamie Graham are the coaches, and elite policy has encouraged a number of players to come and play at Lasswade. They produced six players who were in the under 18’s cup final, which helped to prove that the model was working. 

At this time, although he was managing the family farm, he was spending much of his time being involved in rugby, in any case technology had taken over, and tractors are like stepping into a spaceship.

He was then persuaded to stand for the Scottish Rugby Council, he was a representative for Premier 3 and later on became a director of the Rugby Board for three years. This was about the time of the first BT deal. In year four at the SRU he was appointed ambassador for the under 20’s. Things were not going as well as he hoped and he decided to stand down from the Rugby Council, and for the next year quite enjoyed not having the pressure of working for Scottish Rugby. 

Ian was then persuaded to put his hat in the ring and was elected Vice President at the first ballot, and eventually should be elected President this August at the AGM.

Ian’s father’s described his speech making as ‘short, unintertesting and not particularly funny”. Ian then hosted a question and answer session where the subjects ranged from working with Dee Bradbury, the SRU President, the price of international tickets (£90 for Wales v Scotland when Ireland charged £70 for a similar seat), has the SRU turned its back on the Clubs, commission on the sale of match and season tickets, how do we draw our concerns to the notice of the SRU, the Finn Russell – Gregor Townsend confrontation, South Africa joining the Six Nations, to the termination of Vern Cotter’s contract.

Afterwards, Bert Lawson thanked Ian for an informative and entertaining talk.