He received an OBE, CBE and MBE for services to the sport and combined his work as a broadcaster with that of a PE teacher until 1987. He studied Physical Education in Aberdeen and coached several players who went on to play for Scotland, such as Jim Renwick, Colin Deans and Tony Stanger.
McLaren died this morning in the community hospital in his hometown of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Hawick's club secretary, John Thorburn, led the tributes, saying: "We're devastated, obviously. We've got a room named after him at the rugby club. It was very close to his heart, Hawick rugby club. He's a huge loss to rugby worldwide."
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis paid the following tribute.
"Bill Maclaren was not just the voice of rugby throughout the world and in Wales, he was an integral part of many a fans match-day experience and rugby education and part of the rich history of our national game.
"Many a young boy or girl has fallen in love with rugby union to the sound of Bill's commentaries and also because of them and many of them will have gone on to take up the sport and even represent their countries.
"When he retired from the game he was missed in the manner that many of the greatest players in Welsh rugby history have been, which is some accolade in itself, before you consider he was a Scotsman.
"But Bill transcended nationality, his passion was for the game of rugby and his ability was to be able to enrich the viewing experience of anyone who had the great pleasure to listen to him.
"Just as he was sorely missed and his loss from the game reverberated around the world when he retired, his passing now will be equally felt. Bill will be fondly remembered as one of the greatest servants of our national sport."
WRU chairman and former Wales captain David Pickering added, "Bill was legendary as a broadcaster, he was a thorough professional and the players adored him. He would come to our training sessions when we were playing in Scotland or if he was covering a game in Wales, usually with a bag of Hawick balls, the sweets from his area.
"I remember him coming up to talk to me at a training session before my first cap to ensure he would be able to identify me during the game.
"He was a true gentleman with a charming personality and everyone thought the world of him."
The WRU will remember Bill McLaren at the Wales v Scotland match at the Millennium Stadium on February 13.