Rugby hails the contribution of Professor Lorne Crerar to the sport as he steps down from trio of high-profile disciplinary roles

The Chairman of leading Scottish law firm Harper Macleod, Professor Lorne Crerar, has been hailed for his contribution to rugby over more than two decades after stepping down from a trio of high-profile disciplinary roles in the sport.

Professor Lorne Crerar

Professor Crerar has retired from his positions as Chairman of the disciplinary panels for Scottish Rugby, the 6Nations and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) after a more than two decades. These roles saw him involved in everything from World Cup Finals to the infamous 'Bloodgate', while he also played a role during rugby sevens' debut at the Rio Olympics.

Leading figures in the game's ruling bodies paid tribute to Professor Crerar, who has also been named the first ever 'Emeritus' member of Scottish Rugby Discipline Panel in recognition of his 'tremendous service' to the game after 22 years on the panel.

A spokesperson for Scottish Rugby said: "We are extremely grateful to Lorne for his wise counsel and leadership of the Panel over many years. This is the first time that anyone has been granted the honour of Emeritus status and it is testimony as to how much his service has been appreciated."

John Feehan, CEO of Six Nations Rugby, said: "Lorne has been an exceptional Chairman and has given of his professionalism, hard work, expertise and patience for so many years, only for the overall good of the game. The manner in which he ran the discipline panel has set a very high benchmark and he will be missed very much."

Announcing Professor Crerar's successor at the EPCR – Mike Hamlin – CEO Vincent Gaillard said: “We would like to place on record our appreciation for the service of Professor Lorne Crerar whose legacy to the tournaments, and rugby in general, is ensuring that the game is much cleaner to play and more attractive to watch than ever before. We are delighted that he has agreed to continue in his role as an appeal chairman, and provide support to Mike while he gets to grips with the demands of the position.”

A former player and referee, Lorne has had a distinguished career in rugby discipline, including serving at four Rugby World Cups and being Judicial Officer for the past two finals. At the Rio Olympic Games 2016 he acted as Appeals Officer as rugby sevens made a hugely successful debut last summer.

Lorne said: "I've been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved in a sport I love for so long, and to have had such incredible experiences in the process. For me it's a great honour to have what has been a labour of love recognised in this way. Over the years I've done pretty much everything in the world of rugby discipline, and travelled the world in what has been a sometimes intense but always fascinating experience. I look forward to continuing to contribute my experience whenever it is requested."

Some of the high-profile disciplinary cases for which Professor Crerar was on the appeal committees include the aforementioned Bloodgate, and, more recently: the committee which upheld Argentina lock Mariano Galarza's nine-week suspension at the 2015 World Cup; the EPCR committee which upheld a 10-week suspension for England wing Chris Ashton in the 2016 European Champions Cup; and the committee which upheld an eight-week suspension for Cardiff lock George Earle earlier this year.