Bill Hogg: Administrator who oversaw rugby union's move to professionalism

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bill Hogg's commitment to rugby union was matched only by the influence he carried, with a quiet, modest bearing, as a central figure at the Scottish Rugby Union for 27 years.

He held a series of committee roles, and oversaw the sometimes contentious move into professionalism, but perhaps his passion for the sport was never more realised than the Saturday mornings he spent, without fail and right up until last November, refereeing matches for George Watson's College, his former school.

Born in 1940 in Edinburgh, he was christened Ian Alisdair Lawrence Hogg, although a nurse said that he looked like a Bill, and the name stuck as a way to differentiate him from his father, Ian. Rugby was waiting for Hogg, as his father had played for Watsonians and captained Edinburgh, and once he became a pupil at George Watson's College, he became devoted to rugby and cricket.

After leaving Edinburgh University with an MA in Scottish history and archaeology, he qualified as a chartered accountant, a decision that eventually led to him taking on the role of treasurer at the SRU in 1978. A scrupulous, diligent and thorough individual, Hogg's fastidious nature and his deeply-held enthusiasm for rugby were guiding forces for the governing body for almost three decades.

He became secretary in 1983, combined this with the role of chief executive from 1992 to 1998, before retiring in 2005. He was also national team secretary for 13 of those years, manager's assistant at the 1987, 1991 and 1995 World Cups, and was Scotland's representative on the International Rugby Board, European Rugby Cup and Six Nations Committee.

But it was his painstaking knowledge of the game's rules and regulations, and his principled nature, that was of most valuable. A traditionalist to his bones, Hogg wrote an article for a match programme in which he stated that rugby should never turn professional. After the sport changed irrevocably in 1995 by abandoning its amateur principles, he poked fun at himself for this stance – even although it merely reflected the view of the SRU's board at the time.

During this tumult, when the very nature of the sport changed, his skills as an administrator and an astute reader of the politics of committee men were rigorously applied. Hogg was comfortable in the background, eschewing the profile of high office to serve his sport with integrity. When he retired in 2005, he remained as a consultant to his successor for a year, while continuing to serve as a match commissioner at Heineken Cup matches, sitting on the SRU disciplinary panel and administering the SRU's injured players fund, the Murrayfield Centenary Trust.

Hogg was awarded an OBE in 2006 and was successfully treated for cancer the following year. A dignified, generous, compassionate man, who doted on his grandchildren and enjoyed classical music, his devotion to rugby remained a cornerstone of his life. He is survived by his wife Louise, son Alisdair, daughter Jane and grandchildren Beth and Evie.

Ian Alisdair Lawrence ("Bill") Hogg, secretary and chief executive, Scottish Rugby Union; born Edinburgh 13 June 1940; OBE 2006; married (one son, one daughter); died Edinburgh 31 January 2011.