A host of former Lions tourists have spoken of their delight at the news that Ian McGeechan has been knighted in the New Year’s Honours list.
The 63-year-old Scotsman has toured seven times with Britain and Ireland’s elite and you will be hard pressed to find any colleagues who have a bad word to say about him.
And with McGeechan having been awarded the ultimate honour after years of service to the British game, those who have played with and for him in Lions colours have made it clear that the title of Sir Ian McGeechan is totally fitting for a true Lions legend.
"There’s probably nobody that deserves this more than Ian McGeechan for what he did for Scotland and what he did for the Lions as well," said ex Lions skipper Gavin Hastings, who led the tourists under McGeechan on the trip to New Zealand 17 years ago.
"He’s been a very good ambassador for the sport. As a guy who has been coached by him for many years, I’m absolutely delighted for him."
Those sentiments were echoed by fellow 1993 tourist Stuart Barnes who described his former coach as ‘one of rugby winners’.
“No name is more synonymous with the British & Irish Lions than Ian McGeechan,” said Barnes his column with the Times newspaper.
“And no institution represents the rugby establishment more than the Lions. The announcement of his Knighthood is perhaps only a surprise in that it has been so long coming.
“Nobody within the rugby world would envy McGeechan his title.”
Paul Ackford, another 1993 Lion, was equally complimentary when reacting to the news that McGeechan had been publicly honoured for a contribution to the sport that has been nothing short of outstanding.
“Most people associated with team sports understand the importance of collective spirit…yet few are able to inculcate it again and again with successive generations of elite athletes,” Ackford wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“McGeechan gains respect by accommodating differences, through generating competition by providing genuine equality of opportunity and by creating environments where everyone feels valued and special.
“Anyone who can get the best out of such diverse and mystifying figures as Jeremy Guscott and Andy Powell, as McGeechan has done in a Lions context in teams 20 years apart, has a special gift.
“McGeechan’s teams play with rare emotion and passion because they like him and they like each other, and that is extraordinarily difficult to make happen.”