TRIBUTES have flooded in following the death of former international rugby referee and Borderer Eric Grierson at the age of 93.

The diminutive scrum-half turned out for Hawick Rugby Club and Hawick Linden in the 1950s.

After retiring from playing he took up the whistle and made his refereeing debut in a match between Ireland and South Africa in 1970.

Also a talented cricketer, he was the 80th president of the Scottish Cricket Union.

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death yesterday of former international rugby referee Eric Grierson. He was 93.

“Grierson was one of seven referees from the Hawick club who have taken charge of international rugby matches.

“A diminutive and charismatic figure, his debut was the Ireland v South Africa match in 1970 and he was in charge subsequently of France v England in 1972, Wales v Ireland in 1973 and England v France in 1975.

“A member of the Hawick and Wilton cricket club, Grierson was the 80th president of the Scottish Cricket Union, serving in 1997, having undertaken the role of president of Hawick Rugby Club in both the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. He also was one of the club representatives on Scottish Rugby’s Championship Committee for more than a decade.

“At 5ft 4ins, Grierson, a scrum-half, who started at the Hawick PSA club, made his debut for the Greens in the 1951-52 season and also represented Hawick Trades and Hawick Linden before a cartilage injury compelled him to retire in 1957.

“Almost immediately he took up refereeing and continued a lifetime of service to the game.

“Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Eric Grierson’s family and many friends.”

A Hawick RFC spokesperson said: “Eric made his debut for his beloved Greens in 1952/53, and over the next six season made a further 30 appearances in the green jersey.

“Following his retirement from playing Eric stepped seamlessly into refereeing, and although diminutive in stature, he gained a fine reputation with the whistle, which was ultimately rewarded when he was selected to make his international debut, refereeing Ireland v South Africa in 1970. Eric was one of seven international referees to come from the Hawick club.

“He subsequently went on to referee a further three internationals, and run the touch in numerous other internationals. Who can forget the wonderful image captured for posterity of Eric leaping for joy while running the touch as his fellow Teri Jim Renwick scored a try on his international debut in Scotland’s 20-9 victory over France at Murrayfield in 1972.”

They added: “Grierson was not only a rugby man, Eric enjoyed a long and successful career with Hawick and Wilton Cricket Club, whom he captained to Border League success in 1959 & 1964, and for whom he was still ‘keeping wicket’ in the late 70s.

“Eric also had the great honour of President of the Scottish Cricket Union bestowed upon him in 1997, one of three Hawick men to hold that office.

“On behalf of the committee, the players and members we would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Eric’s family, and friends.”

A Hawick Linden spokesperson said: “All at the Linden were very saddened to hear of the passing of our former player, and the club’s only international referee, Eric Grierson.

“The first record of him playing for the Linden was in 1950 and he was a member of the winning Linden VII at Langholm in 1952. Having then played for Hawick, after retirement he progressed through the refereeing ranks to take charge of his first international in 1970, Ireland v South Africa at Lansdowne Road.

“He also ran touch at many internationals, perhaps most famously when caught with a grin on his face in the background of a photo of Jim Renwick touching down for a debut try against France in 1972. He took charge of the Barbarians v Fiji in 1970 at Gosforth, described as “one of the most entertaining games ever played in the British Isles”.

“In 1971 he was in the middle at Leicester for a RFU Centenary celebration match between Midlands, London & Home Counties against RFU President’s Overseas XV made up of the top players from Australia, France, New Zealand and South Africa.

“A year later he was referee for North Western Counties v the All Blacks at Workington with the home team pulling off a famous victory. Eric and his late wife Winnie were staying in the same hotel as the New Zealanders in Keswick. The game was on TV at night and they walked into the room it was being shown, unbeknown to them that the All Blacks were already in there. Silence!

“But the tourists took it well and they all watched together. In 1975 he was in the middle for the North East Counties against Australia at Gosforth. He was Linden Auditor from 1959-60 to 1979-80.”