Scottish Rugby is saddened to learn of the death of former Scotland back-row forward George Mackie who passed away today (Friday 3 April). He was 70 and had been battling cancer for some while.
George Yuill Mackie won four caps for Scotland as a No 8 out of the Highland club.
Alongside the late Nairn MacEwan, his fellow back-row forward, Mackie was instrumental in the Highland club’s march through the leagues.
Born in Aberdeen of farming stock, Mackie, 6ft 5ins and around 15st, made his Scotland debut in the 10-3 victory over Australia at Murrayfield in December 1975.
He was the only new cap in the side that day, having earned promotion from the Scotland B team that had lost narrowly (9-13) to their French counterparts in Bayonne in 1974.
Mackie, powerful and raw-boned with a great mop of black hair, won a place on Scotland’s 1975 tour to New Zealand and played in three of the seven matches.
He was selected to make his first Scotland appearance in the notorious “water-polo” Test at Eden Park in Auckland at the end of that tour – the pitch was water-logged but the game went ahead nevertheless – but he had to withdraw on the eve of the game through injury.
His subsequent Scotland caps – after that debut against the Wallabies – were against France and Wales in 1976 and again versus the French in 1978.
Colin Baillie, who coached him at Highland, said: “He was an extraordinary ball player, great with his hands and he could run all day. He was one of the fittest boys I worked with.
“He led by example and was always there. On the pitch he would do any task and off the field he was the same.
“He did what some might have regarded as mediocre jobs, working as a janitor or in a distillery and he never took defeat easily.”
When Mackie’s rugby career finished, he moved south around 30 years ago to a 500-acre farm in Essex and, latterly, had a thriving business selling Christmas trees and logs.
Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to George Mackie’s family and friends.