Murrayfield goalposts find new home in Thurso

IT only takes 45 words to move the goalposts - official! Scotland’s most famous rugby uprights have found a new home after more than 30 years gracing Murrayfield.
Picture: Phil WilkinsonPicture: Phil Wilkinson
Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Scotland’s most famous rugby uprights have found a new home after more than 30 years gracing Murrayfield.

The goalposts have borne witness to some of the greatest moments in Scottish rugby history - including two grand slams and victories against the Springboks and Wallabies.

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They are now to move north to a tiny club in the Highland town of Thurso – thanks to a little ditty.

Picture: Phil WilkinsonPicture: Phil Wilkinson
Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The steel rugby posts were there when Scotland won the Grand Slams in 1984 and 1990 and the last ever Five Nations Championship in 1999.

They were dismantled for the last time earlier this year, being replaced by more modern posts that are easier to put up.

International heroes Chris Paterson, Duncan Hodge and Gavin Hastings witnessed the historic event of their removal before Paterson - Scotland’s cap and points record holder - landed the final kick through the set of posts.

All clubs in Scotland were invited to enter a competition to have the chance to win them.

Picture: Phil WilkinsonPicture: Phil Wilkinson
Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Now Caithness RFC has become the proud owners after this entry from secretary Shona Kirk: “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!”

The Millbank club beat off competition from 30 clubs to give the posts a new place to call home.

The Scottish Rugby Union had challenged clubsto tell them in fewer than 50 words why they should be given the famous set of posts.

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The panel, led by Paterson, considered each application in terms of the club’s current need for equipment and youth development.

Shona Kirk sent in the poem explaining how they’ve spent funds on building a new clubhouse and, with Wick High School undergoing redevelopment, the posts would enable them to continue youth development in both towns.

“The posts coming here could not really have come at a better time as we’ve got a big minis and micros section who train in both Thurso and Wick,” she said.

“The pitch at Wick High School is going to be out of action as the school is being redeveloped.

“Highland Council has 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.”

Paterson will be accompanying the posts to the far north later this year.

He said: “It was a challenging competition but we decided that Caithness were the winners.

“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 makes them the fitting resting place for the Murrayfield posts.”

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Caithness, who compete in RBS Caledonia Regional League Division 1, were among some 31 clubs and schools that entered the Scottish Rugby competition to ensure the posts could continue to provide the playing backdrop for years to come.

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.

Paterson added: “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.

Shona Kirk conculded: “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.”