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Ray McLoughlin RIP

  • 23-11-2021 7:28pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭

    Very saddened to see that the legendary Ray McLoughlin has passed away at the age of 82. (Irish rugby legend Ray McLoughlin dies, aged 82 ( )

    Although he stopped playing probably before many of you young whippersnappers were born, he remained an iconic figure for years because of his massive intellect, skill and iron strength that made him a feared opponent in the front rows of both Ireland and the Lions.

    He won 40 caps for Ireland between 1962 and 1975 and also played on two Lions tours to Australia and New Zealand in 1966 and 1971. Although he didn't play on any tests in 71, having been injured and returning home before the first test he had an extraordinary influence on that tour as one of the senior forwards and technical experts to the coaching team.

    McLoughlin was effectively the forwards coach, in those days before the gargantuan support staff that is taken for granted in the professional era. Carwyn James, the Lions coach later wrote: "It would be hard to overestimate the contribution made by Ray McLoughlin to the Lions' forward effort. He talked the forwards through the early weeks of practice scrums and all the forwards were learning all the time. Foot placement. Binding. Use of legs. Use of arms. Body position. Angle of packing. Changes of position. How to exert pressure, and when. For a coach who was a back, the sort of technical assistance was invaluable, and it should always be built into team selection wherever possible."

    McLoughlin missed most of that tour because of a notorious match against Canterbury, a team with the reputation of the toughest and meanest in New Zealand. Both first choice Lions props were invalided home after that match: Sandy Carmichael because both of his eyes had been battered so hard he looked like he had been in a road accident, and McLoughlin because he broke his finger punching one of the alleged miscreants. (That guy probably still hasn't woken up yet!)

    His first and last caps for Ireland were on ignominious occasions. In 1962 he was one of NINE(!) new caps chosen for Ireland's first game against England at Twickenham. Ireland were hammered by the then massive score of 16-0. For some context, other scorelines in matches held that season were a scoreless draw between England and Wales, a 3-0 win for Wales against France and two 3-3 draws in the games between Scotland and England and that between Ireland and Wales. In fact Ireland and Wales each scored a total of nine points in all four matches that season!!! Different times.

    McLoughlin's last appearance for Ireland was in a 32-4 hammering against Wales in Cardiff in 1975. (That season Wales scored 87 points in their four matches!)

    In between though, he played in some memorable matches. He was on the Irish team that came perilously close to beating the All Blacks in 1963, going down 6-5 in Dublin having led for most of the match. The following year he was on the first Irish team to win in Twickenham for 16 years in a glorious occasion that saw the international debut of one Mike Gibson.

    He also featured in the great "might have been' Irish team in 1972. They won their first match in Paris for 20 years in January. Unfortunately, the following day saw the killings of Bloody Sunday in Derry and although the game against England at Twickenham went ahead, with Ireland recording another memorable last minute victory, both Scotland and Wales declined to come to Dublin because of fears over the security situation so a potential Grand Slam went begging.

    McLoughlin scored a famous try in that match against France ploughing his way through the French defence from close range! (See below)

    Off the field he was renowned as a highly intelligent and astute businessman and amassed a tidy fortune thanks to his acumen.

    Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís!

    Post edited by Snickers Man on