Derrick Grant

Derrick Grant was born in Hawick and brought up at 21 Howegate.  He said ‘It was great for seeing the  Cornet and his followers going to the Chase and the Moor and for the Vertish Hill parade, I could see it all from my window’. From when he was a young boy, rugby played a huge part in Derrick’s life, even before he went to High School. It was constantly the topic of conversations as his father and his brothers, Jack and Oliver, were all involved in rugby a lot as well. At the dinner table, they were always talking about how they had played, what they did wrong and how they could put it right. As a result, rugby came to be Derricks favourite sport. He played at the Mote, on the Bleach, the huge drying area used by the women to dry their weekly washing with a rugby ball made from newspaper. He said, ‘We had great fun, trying to score tries and avoid or sidestep each other or the posts and the washing.’ He was at the High School for both his Primary and  Secondary School years. Hawick High School created many new experiences in Derrick’s life, introducing him to team and district Rugby which inspired him to devote more of his free time to improving his game. He tried his hand at golf, cricket, tennis and running but rugby always took preference over them. When he was just 14 years old, playing for the High School, he was brought to attention of the South of Scotland schools selectors and he was picked to represent the South Schools against the North of England and also the Welsh schools. Afterwards, he started work in Braemar as an apprentice frameworker and rose to be Manager of the Seaming and Binding Department at Pringle’s Glebe Mills.  He did his National Service with the Royal Tank Regiment at Catterick and in Germany. He was keen to further his Rugby playing career following in the foot steps of his brothers.  He played for the P.S.A. and the Trades and when he got into the Hawick team Hugh McLeod influenced Derrick enormously and made him believe that anything was possible and taught him to always remain positive. He was selected for Scotland, his first game was against France  in the Stades Colombes.  In all he won 14 caps and then travelled to Australia and New Zealand in 1966 with the British Lions.  He said ‘The tour to Australia and New Zealand was a wonderful experience, it changed my attitude and approach to rugby completely, it was only when you play rugby in New Zealand, that you realise what total rugby is.’ The tour lasted for almost four months, playing in all the major towns and cities of both the countries. He also said ‘It was long and extremely hard but very rewarding, because of the length of the tour, we had lots of free time to see and explore the beautiful New Zealand countryside’ Derrick went on to coach the Scotland team during the 1980′s.

By Niamh Rafferty