For 30 years the old Murrayfield posts were at the centre of many of the most dramatic moments in Scottish rugby. On Saturday - in their new home at Caithness Rugby Club - it was fitting that, on their first appearance at the Thurso side’s Millbank pitch, the game would turn out to be a cracker.
The posts had been transported from Murrayfield to the north of Scotland and were in place the day before kick off. Caithness RFC had won the posts in a competition in which they submitted a 50-word entry explaining just why they wished to give the old steel posts a new home.
Scottish Rugby ambassador Chris Paterson (pictured with the teams above) travelled with the posts to Thurso and was on hand to watch as Caithness and Mackie served up an excellent display of cup rugby.
On Friday Chris, along with club development officer Colin Sangster, held coaching sessions with pupils from the high schools in Wick and Thurso. In the afternoon Chris held a specialised kicking session - a chance for some of the club’s younger players to learn from Scotland’s cap and points’ record-holder and to take a kick at the most famous rugby posts in Scotland.
There was a sense of excitement in the town on Saturday morning and while Chris led a coaching session on the pitch, club members erected tents, fired up the barbecue and made sure there were enough raffle tickets to go round.
The game itself was of an impressive standard, but while the posts were the property of the home side, it was the visiting team which managed to get the first kick through the uprights, centre Michael Levack with a penalty from the 22-metre line just five minutes into the first half.
He told www.scottishrugby.org: “I felt really good hitting the kick – I could feel Chris Paterson’s eyes burning in the back of my head! The posts are good. They’re nice and high.”
After eighty minutes the teams were tied at 23-all and extra-time was needed. To the delight of the large crowd at Millbank it was the home side who scored the winning try, stand-off Liam Brims finding a rare gap in the Mackie defence and sprinting home from 30 metres. He added the conversion and Caithness had won by 30-23.
It was an enjoyable weekend for all concerned and the sense of pride in Thurso at the acquisition of the Murrayfield posts and a slice of Scottish rugby history was palpable.