Scotland rugby team sing Highland Cathedral

MOCK their vocal talents at your peril. The stalwarts of Scottish rugby have swapped the scrum for the studio to record a charity single.

Led by captain Kelly Brown, four members of Scott Johnson’s side have lent their voices to a contemporary version of the haunting bagpipe air Highland Cathedral.

Fittingly, the vocal rendition will receive its premiere at Murrayfield this Saturday ahead of the game against Italy, complete with a video of the players recording the number.

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Despite admitting to a lack of singing experience, the unlikely quartet stressed that they are undaunted by how the 60,000-strong crowd will greet their debut performance, with their focus firmly on the outcome of the Six Nations tie.

It marks the first time a Scotland side has released a song since 1990 when, flush from their Grand Slam success, the team recorded a version of Flower of Scotland, which reached

No73 in the UK charts.

Those behind the latest venture hope it will raise money for good causes – and provide a stirring introduction for the team before this weekend’s game.

Despite being a self-confessed “terrible singer”, Brown said he enjoyed his time behind the


The 30-year-old recorded his lead vocals in Aberdeen in

November, singing his lines “over and over” until satisfied. Backing vocals were provided by scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, 23, Euan Murray, the 32-year-old prop forward, and centre Matt Scott, 22.

“It was a good laugh,” Brown said. “Nobody really wanted to do it, because we’re all pretty rubbish at singing, but eventually three of us got roped into it.

“I play guitar, but I think I’m a terrible singer. Euan Murray’s a good singer, actually. He did a bit of harmonising, which is more than me and Henry Pyrgos could do. We were pretty limited in our vocal range.”

Asked how he would feel hearing his own voice booming out at Murrayfield, he added: “I think I’ll be more nervous running out on to the pitch than getting the song released.”

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Though the music critics have yet to deliver their assessment of the players’ efforts, Highland

Cathedral has long been a favourite among Scottish rugby aficionados and is regularly played at Murrayfield.

A standard for all aspiring pipers, the tune was written for the bagpipes by Ullrich Roever and Michael Korb, to mark the occasion of a Highland Games held in Germany in 1982. It featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, and was chosen by Madonna to be played at her Highland wedding.

The song has also featured in polls asking Scots what would be fitting as a future national anthem. An online survey carried out by The Scotsman last month saw it come second to Flower of Scotland with 13 per cent of the vote, beating Scotland the Brave, which only garnered 11 per cent.

The new version, which will be available to download from iTunes and Amazon, was arranged by Calum Malcolm, a producer who has worked with some major names in Scottish music, including Simple Minds, Orange Juice and Wet Wet Wet. The revamped lyrics are by Simon Paterson-Brown and Chris Thomson.

The idea for the project came from Gordon Campbell, managing director of the Music Kitchen, an Edinburgh label. He said: “It’s a contemporary treatment of what is a very well-loved song. The lyrics are emotional, but they are uplifting as well. To me, it almost sums up rugby.”

Proceeds from sales will benefit three of Scottish Rugby’s registered charities – the Bill McLaren Foundation, Hearts and Balls, and the Murrayfield Centenary Fund.

Athletes on song

WHILE Kelly Brown’s vocal performance has been widely praised, other sporting stars have endured a critical mauling after venturing into the world of music. Here are some memorable examples:

Chris Waddle and Glen Hoddle - Diamond Lights

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The two footballers formed a fearsome partnership for Tottenham and England, but when they teamed up to record this number, it was derided even by fans of their team. The lyrics included the following couplet: ‘Eyes that freeze like ice / Cold electric blue those diamond lights’.

John Daly - I Found It

The golfing bad boy has raised many an eyebrow during his career, having endured a torrid time with drink, drug, and gambling addictions. However, he provided music critics with ammunition after releasing this single. It emerged from an album, I Only Know One Way, which sought to blend bluegrass and country.

Damon Hill - Drive My Car

The British F1 star hardly got out of first gear when attempting to do justice to The Beatles with this rendition. Fortunately for him, William Shatner’s version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds regularly pips it in polls of worst cover versions of the Fab Four’s canon.

Andy Cole - Outstanding

Despite a successful career as a striker with Manchester United and England, the footballer embarked on an ill-advised musical career, and was not aided by a PR campaign which billed him as “Britain’s answer to Will Smith.” In keeping with other football songs, the lyrics were painfu. ‘I blaze the scene,’ went one line. ‘Score the goal, keep my eyes on the prize’.

Basile Boli and Chris Waddle - We’ve Got a Feeling

Former Rangers defender Basile Boli ought to have known better than to have joined forces with Chris Waddle after the latter’s previous crimes against music, but the pair delivered a particularly loathsome performance, with the resulting music video widely regarded as one of the worst of all time.

Highland Cathedral

(Music by M Korb and U Roever. Lyrics by S Paterson-Brown and C Thomson)


Scotland my country and my land of birth

Highlands and Islands to the Solway Firth

Where’er I travel and where’er I roam

Highland Cathedral in my heart, my home

Scots unite all across the world

And let the home fires burn in your eyes

Listen now can you hear the call

For Scotland will rise?

March as one to the pipes and drums

Stand up for the right, fight without fear

Strong and true in adversity

For Scotland will you cheer?