Gary Callander dead: Former Scotland rugby captain passes away aged 62


Former club Kelso RFC announced the death of Callander, who captained Scotland five times and also enjoyed a successful domestic playing career

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Former Scotland rugby captain Gary Callander has died at the age of 62, after a short battle with cancer.

His hometown club Kelso, south-east of Edinburgh and close to the English border, announced the news on its official website.

Callander played much of his career in the 1980s, and enjoyed success in both rugby union and sevens.

In a statement, Kelso president Scott Forbes said he was “saddened” to hear of his death, adding: “Gary’s contribution to the history of the club cannot be overstated.”

Hooker Callander enjoyed a stellar career with Kelso, winning the Border League in 1985/86 before going on to lead his side to Scottish First Division glory two years later.

That came after he had been an integral part of Kelso’s sevens side in the late 1970s and early ’80s, during which time he won five medals at the prestigious Melrose Sevens competition.

He managed six appearances for Scotland – far too few for a player of his quality.

That number was greatly affected by the fact he played at the same time as legendary hooker Colin Deans, who was a Scotland regular during an era in which substitutions were not allowed.

But his importance was signified by the fact he was captain for five of the six internationals he did play, including during the 1988 Five Nations campaign.

It was during that campaign that he was the skipper for Scotland’s fine 24-11 victory over France, which delighted the Murrayfield crowd.

After his playing career, he enjoyed several coaching stints including at Kelso, and also with the likes of Watsonians and Gala.

The rest of the statement from Kelso president Forbes said: ” He captained the club to its first Border League title in 50 years in the 85/86 season; was instrumental in leading the club to the Scottish First Division Championship in the 87/88 season and was an integral part of the successful Kelso seven of the late 1970s and 80s, where he won five Melrose sevens medals.

“He also appeared in two Hong Kong sevens finals playing for the Co-optimists and the Scottish Border Club where he was one of five Kelso players in the side that beat the All Blacks in the Semi Final before falling to Australia in the final.

“He achieved the ultimate accolade of captaining his country for five of his six international caps. He was a captain, leader and an outstanding rugby player. He will be sorely missed by his rugby family.

Our thoughts are with Gary’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.May he rest in peace.”