Gordon Brown (rugby union)

Gordon Brown
Scottish Lock Gordon Brown's Try against Western Transvaal 1974
Full name Gordon Lamont Brown
Date of birth (1947-11-01)1 November 1947
Place of birth Troon, Scotland
Date of death 19 March 2001(2001-03-19) (aged 53)
Place of death Troon, Scotland
Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
Weight 110 kg (17 st 5 lb; 243 lb)[1]
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Lock
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
West of Scotland
Marr College FP
correct as of 5 March 2007.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1971, 1974, 1977
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 5 March 2007.

Gordon Lamont Brown (1 November 1947 - 19 March 2001) was a Scottish international rugby union footballer. He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2001. He was also an inductee to the Scottish Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2010. And, The World Rugby Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Wembley during the Rugby World Cup 2015. His nickname was Broon frae Troon (i.e. Brown from Troon) after his home town in west central Scotland.[2] Brown played second row for West of Scotland, Scotland and the British Lions. He is often considered "Scotland's greatest second row".[3] He was the younger brother of Peter Brown, the son of footballer John Brown, and the nephew of footballers Tom and Jim Brown.

Richard Bath writes of him:

A buoyant larger-than-life figure, Brown was an abrasive steamroller of a lock. Unmoveable in the scrum and unfailingly sure on his own ball at the line-out, he also displayed a dynamism in the loose [play] and an ability to look after himself when the going got tough. At 6ft 5in. and over 17 stone, Brown had trouble maintaining peak fitness, so it was hardly surprising his greatest moments came on tour.[3]


Brown was from a sporting family, his elder brother Peter also played for and captained the Scottish side. His father, John played goalkeeper for the Scottish football side and also appeared in the Scottish Open at Royal Troon alongside golfing greats such as Arnold Palmer.

He is also the nephew of footballers Tom and Jim Brown.

Speaking of the brothers Brown, he thinks their skill was in their genes, but that Peter and Gordon were very different:

They inherited sporting ability, for their father was an international goalkeeper. They were both big, the young Gordon, being at 6 feet 5 inches a couple of inches the taller, and they were both natural ball-players. There the resemblance stopped: Gordon's play could have been recorded on film and used to educate any aspirant lock-forward. He was exemplary in his orthodoxy. Peter was an individualist, eccentric, surprising and brilliant. Not surprisingly he was a great Sevens player: I don't think Gordon shone at the short game. I doubt if it could rouse him sufficiently.[4]


A product of Marr College and West of Scotland, he won the first of 30 caps for Scotland at the age of 22 on 6 December 1969 against South Africa, winning 6-3.[3] He retained his place for the Five Nations opener against France but was dropped for the Wales match for his brother Peter. Gordon Brown then went on to replace Peter Brown at half-time due to injury, and this was the first time a brother replaced a brother in an international match.

Winning 5 caps, and partnered Willie John McBride in the engine room of the scrum in the 1974 Lions tour to South Africa, during which he scored a remarkable eight tries and won a further 3 caps. He also played in a non-cap match against Fiji at the end of the 1977 tour to New Zealand.

A major criticism of Brown was that he played better for the British Lions than his one own country. Although, on a lions tour he was given the ability to live and train as a full time rugby player with world class teammates.

He was what is often called a player's player. The average spectator, not good at seeing who wins the ball in the line-out for instance, could watch a match without being aware of Gordon Brown. Yet the fact remains that packs that contained him invariably did better than the same pack with a replacement. He was the supreme working forward, and the most important member of what may be the best front five Scotland has ever had... In contrast... it was a frequent criticism that he never played quite so well for Scotland as people had heard he had done for the Lions.[5]

Unfortunately his International rugby career came to a somewhat inauspicious end. In December, 1976, he was playing in a match between Glasgow and the North-Midlands, he was suspended for three months after getting into a fight with Allan Hardie, in which Brown chased Hardie, threw him to the ground and kicked him. Prior to this, Hardie had kneed Brown in the face and proceed to stamp on the open wound on Brown's brow after the initial attack went unnoticed by the referee. The suspension meant that he missed three internationals and was banned from training at any rugby club. He trained daily at Ibrox stadium under the guidance of Jock Wallace of Rangers who put him through a gruelling fitness regime. Gordon remembered being made to sprit up and down the terraces at Ibrox until he was sick. After missing three months of rugby he was selected for the British Lions tour of New Zealand 1977. Because of a string of injuries, he never played for Scotland again.[6]LP


Gordon Brown died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma aged 53 in 2001.[2] His funeral was attended by former Scotland and Lions team mates and opponents from the whole rugby world.

The [99 call] battles [of the 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa] created one of rugby's immortal tales: Brown hit his opposite number, Johan de Bruyn, so hard that the Orange Free State man's glass eye flew out and landed in the mud. "so there we are, 30 players plus the ref, on our hands and knees scrabbling about in the mire looking for this glass eye," recalled Brown in an interview before his death from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2001, aged 53. "Eventually, someone yells 'Eureka' whereupon de Bruyn grabs it and plonks it straight back in the gaping hole in his face." Shortly after the death of the player ... de Bruyn presented Brown's widow with the glass eye in a specially made trophy.
Clem and Greg Thomas.[2]


  1. BaIL staff 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Thomas & Thomas 2013, p. iv.
  3. 1 2 3 Bath 1997, p. 127
  4. Massie 1984, p. 177
  5. Massie 1984, pp. 178-179
  6. Massie 1984, p. 178


External links

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