Alistair Gourlay Biggar, from Dalbeattie in Kirkcudbrightshire, though born in Edinburgh, entered Sedgwick House, Sedbergh in 1960 from St Mary’s Prep School, Melrose, and remained a lifelong Melrose supporter. His cousin, Mike Biggar (S63-68), arrived at Sedbergh also from St Mary’s in 1963 and went on to gain his Blue at Cambridge University, and play for and captain London Scottish and Scotland. Alastair came with strong rugby genes, his father Ken, also a Sedberghian, was in Sedgwick House (33-37), playing on the unbeaten 1936 XV as a strong running centre who later played in the Scottish Inter City matches. His uncle was the redoubtable W I D Douglas Elliot who captained Scotland in the post war era between 1947 and 1954.
Alastair was an outstanding sportsman whether on the fives court, on the cricket square, where he gained his 1st XI Cricket Colours, and on the athletics field, where he broke the 110 yard hurdles record. But it was on the football field that his natural athleticism found fullest expression, as an immensely talented rugby player, with a searing sidestep, wonderful hands and an ability to beat his opposite number with guile, acceleration, or a bewitching dummy. At Sedbergh he was coached by the mercurial Welsh fly half, Alan Barter (Cardiff and Cambridge University), and played two seasons on the Sedbergh XV. In the 1964 side he partnered A K Bruce-Lockhart (SH60-64) in the centre, with John Spencer at fly half, a future England centre and with whom he later toured New Zealand with the victorious 1971 Lions. Sedbergh narrowly suffered a single defeat in his final season, to an excellent Dulwich College side. He played for a strong London Scottish Schoolboys side with Colin Telfer at fly half, who beat Richmond schoolboys 57 – 0.
Leaving Sedbergh in 1965, he went to Shuttleworth Agricultural College, in Bedfordshire, and joined London Scottish, with whom he played for 10 years. He joined a celebrated back division boasting six Internationals. There he played as a 19 year old in a Club style which encouraged his naturally creative flair. He played in a final Scottish trial within a year of leaving Sedbergh, but had to wait until 1969 for his first cap, which was against South Africa at Murrayfield, a match which Scotland won 6-3. But for injuries he would undoubtedly have won many more international caps than his 12 International appearances between 1969 and 1972, which included a double triumph over England in 1971 at Twickenham and a week later in the Centenary match at Murrayfield. He was a member of the victorious 1971 British Lions touring party to New Zealand, which still remains the only Lions side to win a Test series in New Zealand. He played 10 times on the tour, and scored 9 tries on the wing, including a hat trick against Marlborough/Nelson’s Bay.
He later went into the City as a foreign exchange broker, and lived in Jersey with his wife Christine and three children. He died on 6th February 2016 after a long battle with cancer at the relatively young age of 69, and we extend sincere sympathy to his wife and family at their untimely loss.
The funeral on Wednesday 24th February in Cern Abbas Church, near Dorchester was a very fitting tribute to Alastair’s marvellous life and was extremely well attended. A large number of OSs were present at the service to pay their respect to a truly great Sedberghian.
There was also a small group of OSs, which included three of his fellow Sedbergh 1st XV team members, John Spencer, Richard Birtwistle and Neil McKerrow who weren’t able to make the funeral near Dorchester, but met and gathered in a huddle at 12.30 on Wednesday 24th February on the centre line on Buskholme to share a few memories of him. It was a gloriously crisp, sunny afternoon with Sedbergh looking at its very best, conditions would have been just right for Alastair! We felt he would have appreciated it, especially some of the stories that were shared.