Former Guinness Six Nations chairman Bill Beaumont leads the New Year’s Honours list after he was rewarded with a knighthood for his services to rugby.
Beaumont is joined on the list by several other Championship heroes, with Scottish great Doddie Weir recognised with an OBE and former Ireland captain Willie John McBride appointed a CBE.
But for Beaumont – who captained England to a Grand Slam Five Nations victory in 1980 and is a former chairman of the RFU, the news came as quite the surprise.
“I was very proud when I got the envelope three or four weeks ago saying I was being recommended for a knighthood,” he said.
“It was very official, not the normal envelope I would receive.
“I just thought ‘wow’. To think that I would be mentioned alongside the great sports people who have been knighted was very humbling.”
Awarded a CBE in 2008, Beaumont is currently serving as the chairman of World Rugby, and is the honorary president of rugby charity Wooden Spoon
Weir – who was a part of Scotland’s Five Nations winning team in 1999 – was recognised for his services to the sport as well as his work in motor neurone disease research.
And the 48-year-old, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2017 and founded the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said that the honour served simply to cap off what has been a fantastic year.
“I am humbled and honoured to be recognised in this way,” he said in a statement.
“To be awarded the OBE for services to rugby, research into MND and the Borders community is particularly special as all three are close to my heart.
“We, myself, Kathy, Hamish, Angus and Ben and those involved with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, have received incredible support from the rugby community and the Borders folk since I shared my diagnosis with everyone in June 2017.
“I would like to take tis opportunity to thank everyone for their ongoing kindness and generosity.”