These days life can be a bit of a rollercoaster and at the weekend I had the experience of highs and lows as possibly never before.

On Saturday morning I attended the funeral of Mrs Mary Rose Crozier, mother of my friend Ed Crozier, the former President of the Scottish Rugby Union. She passed away just before Christmas at the age of 94. It was a sad occasion, of course, but in the beautiful surroundings of St Patrick’s Church, Dumbarton, I found the lovely service quite inspirational, especially the eulogy delivered by her son Sheriff Paul Crozier who meaningfully captured the qualities of this great Christian lady.

Later that day I kept a prior engagement and attended the pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. Thanks to the brilliance of Allan Stewart, Grant Stott, Jordan Young and company, I cheered up immensely and if you haven’t had a chance to see it, do yourself a favour and get a ticket.

When’s he getting to the rugby, I hear you say. Well that’s easy. I missed the Edinburgh v Zebre match, obviously, but caught it on highlights later and was impressed with the Italians’ gusto but even more impressed with Edinburgh’s determination, and Paddy Harrison’s try was the icing on the cake – we know his farming family and got our Jack Russell terrier Hamish from them nine years ago.

Sunday’s Glasgow Warriors v Stormers match was just wonderful, entertaining from end to end with a commitment to attacking rugby on both sides. Yes, the Warriors left it late against the defending champions but that made the thrilling action all the more memorable. Surely both our professional sides can kick on from here and get further up the URC table.

And then I learned the dreadfully sad news of the passing of Ken Scotland at the age of 86 at his home in Edinburgh on Saturday. Suddenly the joy of double victory in the URC evaporated. It was not a surprise as I knew he had battled cancer over a long time, but it still came as shock that here was the death of a genuine living legend of our sport, capped 27 times for Scotland in an era when there were just Five Nations and no World Cups.

I first met him many years ago and it was not in a rugby context as he was custodian of Brodick Castle for the National Trust of Scotland and I was researching a book at the time. Ken proved an excellent host and a mine of information, and many years later I went back to him for the 2009 book Once Were Lions which I co-wrote with my old colleague Jeff Connor. Ken played down his role in the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1959, but he did relate many facts to me about the tour as he had kept an impeccable diary of the tour which lasted five months.

He was being modest as always, but the facts spoke for themselves, however. In that tour he played in 22 of the 33 matches, including five of the six Tests. In all he scored 22 tries on that tour including a hat-trick in the first provincial match in New Zealand against Hawke’s Bay. The Lions lost their four match series against the All Blacks but managed to win the fourth and final test – thanks to Ken and his colleagues, they didn’t really mind losing that one. He made a huge impression on his hosts and was named by the New Zealand press in their team of the year. One sportswriter, Terry McLean, captured his essence: “He floated like summer down through the New Zealand defence.”

The reason he was so impressive was because Ken Scotland played the game differently. He was generally credited with being the first attacking full-back, starting the culture whereby the No. 15 joined in the attacking line instead of hanging back for safety. After him came JPR Williams, Serge Blanco, and our own Andy Irvine, Gavin Hastings and Stuart Hogg. If that was all that Ken Scotland did it would have been enough for him to be remembered by, but he also helped to revolutionise kicking at goal by adopting the ‘round the corner’ instep method which wowed the New Zealanders and became the standard.

It helped that he was very fast across the pitch and could get back to make tackles if the opposition got the ball. He also had a great rugby brain on and off the field.

I am sad he has gone, but even sadder that I fear we will never see his like again. For at 5ft 10ins and 11st 2lbs, I doubt the Ken Scotland of the 1960s would get a game in these days of battering ram behemoths, which is surely an indictment of the way rugby has changed.