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Highland are looking for final push to reach the flight

By Andrew Henderson

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A meteoric rise by Highland has led to them reaching the second rung off the top of the Scottish rugby pyramid – but head coach Dave Carson wants to take that final step.

Highland v Kelso, Canal Park, Inverness...Stuart MacDonald-Butler looking for a way through...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Highland v Kelso, Canal Park, Inverness...Stuart MacDonald-Butler looking for a way through...Picture: Callum Mackay..

Four promotions in six years saw the Greens go from Caledonia North Two all the way to National One, and they were near the top of the table all season before coronavirus brought the campaign to an early end.

It has been a remarkable journey, with back-to-back promotions into National Two and National One.

This was supplemented by success in cup competitions along the way.

But rather than sitting and resting on one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, Carson wants to push his side even further by achieving promotion to the Premiership. And if history is to repeat itself, Highland will be aiming to secure their spot in club rugby’s top flight next season.

“Four promotions and three national cup finals, it’s not bad,” Carson reflected.

“Apart from the last year where we went from National Two to National One, we took a year every step of the way.

“Going from Caley North Two into Caley One, we finished third or fourth our first season. We learned what it was all about, learned as coaches and as players.

“The following year we got promotion to National Three, and it was the same again. We had a third or fourth finish in National Three the first season, and the following season we pushed on again for promotion to National Two.

“Then we just jumped straight away into National One. We didn’t expect it, but it is such a good bunch of players we’ve had.”

The signs were always there that Carson’s Highland could go on to become a real force, as he had immediate success when he returned as head coach in 2013.

“If I’m correct, we went through that first season undefeated,” he recalled.

“We didn’t lose a game in Caley Two North, and we won the North Bowl and the National Bowl against Glenrothes in the final at Broadwood, because Murrayfield was getting done up. It was a good start.”

Highland finished the National One season in third place with 13 wins and five defeats, with four games left to play before the season was declared null and void. No promotion or relegation from any league will take place this season.

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