TRIBUTES from throughout the local rugby community have been paid to popular former Selkirk player Billy Rutherford, who died at his home in Spain on January 21. He was 59.

A pacy three-quarter who could slot into any position in the back line, Billy made 195 senior appearances for Selkirk between 1975 and 1988, scoring a total of 61 tries. He also won honours with the South District XV.

A member of the Selkirk side that lifted the National League Division 2 title in 1981, he featured in the 1977 Selkirk A team which won the Border Junior League, and picked up senior winners medals at the Kilmarnock (1978) and Selkirk (1982) Sevens tournaments.

In many of the games he played for Selkirk, Billy would line up alongside his elder brother John, the Scotland and British Lions internationalist, while in 1979 he joined both John and eldest brother James in Selkirk’s Canadian tour party.

The youngest son of William and Helen Rutherford, Billy attended Philiphaugh Primary and Selkirk High schools, where his aptitude for sport was quickly spotted. After leaving school he trained as a mechanic with a local garage, but was forced to look for other employment when the business closed.

An assortment of job careers followed, first as a gardener for racehorse trainer Kenneth Oliver, before a move to Peebles saw him become manager of the Bridge Inn public house. Next came a spell as the owner and manager of a local sports shop, before he embarked on a 15-year career as a postman in Peebles with the Royal Mail.

In 1977 Billy married Lorna Rodger, who had been in his year at Selkirk High School, and the couple first lived in Selkirk before moving to Peebles, where they raised their two children Steven and Susan.

As well as a successful rugby career, Billy enjoyed amateur dramatics, music, writing poetry and reading, and also took a keen interest in politics.

Following the break-up of his marriage, he moved to Spain and immediately felt at home in his new surroundings. Settling first at La Linea, he took a job with on-line betting company Stan James in Gibraltar, before leaving to run his own bar, Betty Blue’s.

Billy’s next move was to the Andalucian port of Duquesa, where he shared a flat with his great friend Martin Walker and began working from home for the Gala Bingo organisation. It was here he met his soul-mate Lynn, and the couple stayed together from this point onwards.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, Billy fought the illness with typical fortitude and good humour, and his spirits were lifted by regular visits from family members and friends.

Selkirk RFC will be the poorer for his passing, and the Philiphaugh club passes on its deepest condolences to the family.