The posts that graced the international pitch at Murrayfield Stadium for more than 30 years are to find a new home.
The steel posts stood sentinel to some of the finest moments in Scotland’s proud rugby history – including the 1984 and 1990 Grand Slams and the last ever Five Nations Championship success in 1999.
Scotland’s cap and points’ record-holder, Chris Paterson, welcomed almost 2,000 supporters, young and old, onto the international pitch at Murrayfield back in May for a fun day as the posts were dismantled for the last time before a new aluminium set is installed for the start of the forthcoming season.
Now the prized posts are to be erected at the northernmost pitch on the Scottish mainland at a club with a thriving youth section – Caithness.
Caithness, who compete in RBS Caledonia Regional League Division 1, were among some 31 clubs and schools that entered a Scottish Rugby competition to ensure the posts could continue to provide the playing backdrop for years to come.
We asked clubs and schools to let us know in 50 words or fewer why they should help sustain a valuable part of our rugby heritage.
Then a Scottish Rugby panel, chaired by Chris Paterson, considered their bids. Paterson said: “This clearly caught the imagination of a number of clubs across Scotland. Some put their submissions in verse, one sent in a video and others noted that from a practical point of view they had a real need for the posts.
“We decided to shortlist clubs who had either cited specific reasons such as moving to a new ground or whose own posts were in disrepair, alongside perhaps those who are celebrating an anniversary. We also wanted to know that the posts would get plenty of use, so clubs with thriving numbers in their youth section very much came into the equation.”
The shortlist comprised Langholm and Hawick Linden/Hawick Wanderers from the Borders; Trinity Accies from Edinburgh; Glasgow East from Glasgow; McLaren from the west region and Caithness from Caledonia.
Paterson explained: “It was a challenging competition to judge but, in the end, we decided that Caithness were the winners.”
Caithness’ s entry from secretary Shona Kirk was:
“Fifty years have past
But at very long last
Caithness will have its first rugby pavilion.
But raising that quarter of a million
Has left us without a pound
So to get the posts from that hallowed ground
Would make us the happiest club around!”
Paterson added: “We decided that the considerable growth in Caithness over the past few seasons with around 250 boys and girls attached to the club, their new clubhouse being built, their Positive Coaching Scotland accreditation and the fact that they overcome the challenges of geography with such a positive attitude makes them the fitting resting place for the Murayfield posts.
“I’m looking forward to taking the posts the 262 miles to Thurso early in the season and with the help of Murrayfield groundstaff and an eager band of volunteers from the club, we’ll assemble the posts at Millbank.
“All the clubs/schools that entered the competition will receive complimentary tickets for the Scotland v Japan match at Murrayfield on Saturday 9 November and the opportunity for young people to attend the final Scotland training session in preparation for the match.
Details of Chris's trip to Caithness will be unveiled in due course.
Shona Kirk, Caithness RFC's secretary, said: "That's brilliant news. The posts coming here could not really have come at a better time. We've got a big minis and micros section who train in both Thurso and Wick.
"The pitch at Wick High School is going to be out of action as the school is being redeveloped. The local council have a playing field in Wick that they've said we can use so what we'll do is move a set of our current posts to Wick and put up the Murrayfield posts on our ground at Millbank.
"It's a bit of a standing joke in the club that Chris Paterson is my absolute hero so to know that he'll be bringing the posts to Caithness is quite a bonus!"