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World of rugby pays tribute to the legendary voice of game

The world of rugby has paid tribute to Bill McLaren, the legendary rugby union commentator, who died yesterday aged 86.

McLaren, from Hawick, Scotland, was known as the 'voice of rugby' after almost 50 years as a national broadcaster. He suffered with ill health in recent years and passed away peacefully at his local hospital at 10.30am.

Tributes followed from the worlds of rugby, broadcasting and politics for a man who became the most famous and well-respected commentator in the game before he retired in 2002.

Scotland rugby legend Gavin Hastings said: "First and foremost, Bill was a very proud and passionate Scot, but such was his professionalism that you would never really have known that.

"One of the times that I will always remember being there, he said, 'Now son, if you want to speak, just tug away at my coat'.

"I was keen to say something so I kept tugging away at his coat for what seemed like about five minutes before he allowed me to speak."

England lose Croft for Six Nations ties

It was confirmed last night that England will be without Tom Croft for at least their first two games of the Six Nations Championship, against Wales and Italy, after he was ruled out for five to six weeks. The Leicester flanker suffered medial knee ligament damage in the Heineken Cup win over Viadana on Saturday.

Croft may be doubtful, too, for the game on February 27 against Ireland.