JIM BACK AS PRESIDENT
RUTHERGLEN man Jim Stevenson has been re-elected as president of the Scottish Rugby Union in a closely-fought contest at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The vote took place during the annual general meeting of Scottish rugby clubs in Edinburgh.
Jim (53), who has served Cambuslang Rugby Club in almost every conceivable capacity on and off the pitch, saw off two other candidates – Finlay Calder (Stewart’s-Melville FP), the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions captain; and Jim Gracie (Alloa), a long-standing servant of the game in the Midlands, to win his second term as President.
In the first ballot, Calder attracted 82 votes, Gracie 16 and Stevenson 81.
The second ballot – whereby Gracie with the lowest number of votes from the first round dropped out – saw Calder receive 87 votes and Stevenson 92.
Jim immediately pledged to continue to seek to champion the views of clubs in his role as president, council chairman and member of the Scottish Rugby Board.
He said: “I’m just delighted. I never expected it to be anything other than very, very close.
“Finlay Calder is an iconic figure within Scottish Rugby, while Jimmy Gracie is someone who’s worked hard behind the scenes for many years, and to beat them is amazing.
“I lost on the first vote 82-81 to Finlay Calder, and Jim Gracie dropped out, and then won on the second vote, and it was the Midlands vote that came to me, which swung it.
“I was delighted as I’d just arrived home at 1.30pm on the Friday from the Lions tour in South Africa, then came home, showered, and went through to Murrayfield.
“I’ve had messages of congratulations from all over Scotland, the rest of the UK, and some international messages, such as from Australia and South Africa.
“It’s been really, really wonderful, as all the grass roots clubs have voted for me, it’s really touching.
“Afterwards, I went back to Cambuslang to have a wee celebration with others at the club, then when I got home had a wee shindig with my wife Ellen, son James and his girlfriend.”
Earlier at the annual meeting, a healthy picture of the game in Scotland was presented by Scottish Rugby’s chief executive Gordon McKie and finance director Eamon Hegarty.
The highlights were of the SRU breaking even for the third successive year, amid a £3.5million reduction in average bank borrowings for the year and a heartening increase in playing numbers in both the adult and youth sections of the game.
During the meeting clubs voted to amend a number of Union bye-laws – most significantly that if the president wishes to hold the office of chairman of the Scottish Rugby Council he may do so and a subsequent election for this office will not be required.
This delighted Jim, who was unable to take the chair last year.
He said: “The question of being chair of council was a big success. For me, it was only right and proper as it’s something I’ve been campaigning for, with two-thirds of the clubs voting to accept this.
“I’m delighted I’ll be given the opportunity to lead from the front.
“Now, it’s time for me to step up and play an active part on both the council and the board, which I’m delighted to do.
“The president is the only position voted on by all the clubs as their representative, and should be playing a full part in the running of our game.”