Eddie McKeating: Ken Scotland pays tribute to his great friend and Scotland team-mate who has died at 84

Ken Scotland has paid tribute to Eddie McKeating, his great friend and former Scotland team-mate, who has died at the age of 84.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 7:00 am
Eddie McKeating, back row second from left, in a Heriot's FP sevens side of the 1950s, with his great friend Ken Scotland second from the right in the back row.

McKeating won six caps for his country between 1957 and 1961 and perhaps would have won many more had it not been for the vagaries of the selectors of that era.

A pacy centre with superb tackling skills, he played his club rugby for Heriot’s FP, helping the Edinburgh club win the Melrose Sevens in both 1957 and 1958.

“In many ways he was the ideal sevens player, with his pace and defensive qualities,” said Scotland the celebrated former Scotland and Lions international. “His game was based on pace and a fantastic tackling style.”

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Scotland players after practice at Craiglockhart. From left, Ken Scotland, Arthur Smith, Eddie McKeating, Keith MacDonald and Ian Swan.

The lifelong friendship between McKeating and Scotland was forged at George Heriot’s School. The pair were close neighbours in the Goldenacre area of the city, next to the Heriot’s playing fields.

“We started school on the same day in 1941 and left on the same day in 1955,” recalled Scotland. “We played together through all the school sides, year by year, and also played cricket together and competed against each other at athletics. We were tied at the hip!”

The pair even enjoyed a fairytale international debut together, combining to help defeat France 6-0 in Colombes in the 1957 Five Nations Championship. It was Scotland’s only victory in Paris in the 1950s.

“Away wins have never been easy for Scotland. That’s not just something from the modern era,” said Scotland who recalls a bruising encounter in which the backs saw little of the ball. The visitors prevailed thanks to the full-back kicking a penalty and a drop goal, and the pair then helped the Scots beat Wales 9-6 at Murrayfield.

Despite his impressive performances and the results, McKeating dropped out of the national side.

He did not return until January 1961 when he played in Scotland’s 12-5 defeat by South Africa in front of 58,000 at Murrayfield.

He played in that season’s Five Nations, helping Scotland beat Wales and Ireland, 3-0 and 16-9, respectively, in Edinburgh.

McKeating won his final cap in Scotland’s last match of the Championship, a 6-0 defeat by England at Twickenham.

In his professional life he was a sales director for a packaging company. He was predeceased by his wife, Catherine.

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