JIM McDOUGAL played a bit of rugby at school, but was always happier cheering his team on from the sidelines or on the telly. He swam competitively and also enjoyed hitting a shuttlecock around a badminton court, before discovering the delights of Edinburgh’s nightlife – and particularly Berties, that legendary rugby watering-hole of the 1990s – and settling into a more sedentary approach to sport, although he did still manage the odd appearance for The Woodpeckers social touch rugby team.
He worked in various bars around Edinburgh for over 20 years, including Berties, and latterly at Malones Irish Bar on Morrison Street and Amarone restaurant on St Andrews Square.
He was also a volunteer match-day assistant for the Scottish Rugby Union, ultimately serving as a tunnel manager, ensuring that all the right people got on and off the pitch at the right times before, during and after a game.
Jim’s sudden death at the age of 42 on Sunday 4th March came as a deep shock to his many friends. The timing seemed particularly cruel because after a tough couple of years, things were looking up on the work front, and he was juggling two jobs he thoroughly enjoyed and where he felt he belonged. He had enjoyed being best man at his friend Scott Meikle’s wedding to Stephanie just six weeks ago and was due to fulfil the same role when another of his partners-in-crime, David Walker, ties the knot with Amanda on 4th May.
Through the grief, however, practical considerations had to be dealt with.
“Jim didn’t really have a big family but I spoke to his Aunt Moira, who agreed that it would be fitting, with her help, if we organised his funeral. We estimated that the cost would be around £3000 for even the most basic funeral and perhaps up to £5000 to give him the send-off we think he deserves,” explains David Finlayson, another old pal.
“So, we decided to set up a ‘JustGiving’ page with an initial target of £3500. We also wanted to make a donation to a charity in his name and therefore anything we collect that isn’t needed for his funeral costs will be donated to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Jim was a big rugby man and we think he would be extremely happy to know that he had helped out the charity.”
The page went live on Thursday evening and by the time Scotland’s match against Ireland kicked off on Saturday afternoon, the total had raced past the £10,000 mark [at the time of publication it is sitting at £11,720].
“We’re flabbergasted,” says Finlayson. “When we discussed doing this we were sure we would manage to raise enough funds to give Jim a lovely send-off but the response has been amazing and it has been humbling to read all the messages so many people have sent along with donating. We now have enough to cover Jim’s funeral and make a significant donation to Doddie Weir’s foundation, and we’re still collecting.”
Jim wasn’t a rugby super-star. He was just a normal guy who loved the game, and did what he could to support it. That the rugby community in Scotland is now playing such a prominent role in supporting his friends as they go through the difficult process of organising his funeral says volumes about what the sport does, and always should, stand for.
“Jim first worked for Scottish Rugby at the inaugural World Series Sevens at BT Murrayfield in 2007 and thereafter acted as a tunnel manager for international, 7s, Edinburgh Rugby, age-grade and club fixtures,” said a Scottish Rugby spokesman.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. He was a passionate Scotland rugby fan and was an integral member of our match-day team. He will be much missed by his many friends.”
Jim’s funeral is at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh on Monday 26th March at 2pm.