Obituary

17th September 2010 at 01:00

James Greenwood, who has died aged 81, was quite simply the father of rugby coaching in Great Britain and the best national coach Scotland never had.

He was an outstanding player - a member of the legendary 1955 British Lions party which toured South Africa, Scotland captain and a Barbarian. But it is as a teacher, coach and inspiration that he will be best remembered.

His seminal 1978 work, Total Rugby, is the Old Testament of British coaching manuals, while his work at Loughborough College saw him become an inspiration to some of the greatest coaches and thinkers in the game, not least England's World Cup-winning coach, Sir Clive Woodward, and Scotland coach Andy Robinson.

Greenwood was a Fifer, born and schooled at Dunfermline High, from where he crossed the Forth to read English at Edinburgh University. During national service with the Royal Air Force, he played for Harlequins, the RAF and Eastern Counties. But it was his displays in the back row for Dunfermline and the North and Midlands which saw him first capped against France in 1952.

He was captain of Scotland in nine internationals. His display, coming back on to the pitch and playing on with a broken collar bone, was one of the bravest ever seen at Murrayfield.

It was also his final cap, as teaching duties - by then he was on the staff at Glenalmond College - took precedence over rugby.

He taught at Glenalmond, at Cheltenham College and Tiffin School in Kingston on Thames, where in 1967 he wrote Improve Your Rugby, the forerunner to his master work.

From Tiffin he moved on to Loughborough, when, primarily a lecturer in English, he found himself in charge of the rugby XV and he had much to do with the development of the great Fran Cotton, the first of many England internationals he was to inspire there.

His Loughborough students spread his gospel. The publication of Total Rugby and a follow-up, Think Rugby, created demand around the world for Guru Greenwood.

But, and this was a source of sadness to him, he was a prophet without honour in his own country. Perhaps his association with the England Women's team and the fact he was shortlisted for the post of technical director with the (English) RFU counted against him at Murrayfield.

In retirement, he and his wife Margot returned to Scotland, where they tended their impressive garden. Jim indulged his passion for wildlife, even hand-feeding the wild birds around his retirement home in Crossmichael in Dumfries and Galloway.

He is survived by Margot. They did not have children, but his legacy will live on through the many coaches he taught and inspired.

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