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Scottish international made Highland a better rugby team

By Will Clark

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GEORGE Mackie has been hailed as one of the most influential players to have pulled on a shirt at Highland Rugby Club.

Mackie played for Scotland.
Mackie played for Scotland.

The former number eight, who was only one of two players to have represented Scotland while playing for the Inverness outfit, passed away last week.

Mackie (70) who won four caps for Scotland, had been battling with pancreatic cancer.

He played for Highland during the 1970s alongside Nairn McEwan, who was the only other player to represent his country while playing for the club.

Former Highland coach Colin Baillie, who trained Mackie during his time at the club, said he would be remembered as one of Highland’s great players.

“For an amateur rugby player, he was exceptional,” he said.

“He trained hard, he played hard and if he lost, he hated it.

“He was the fittest guy at the club at the time and he led from the front.

“He was a very good jumper and was always good at lineout ball, he was always the first for training and last to finish.

“He was a fantastic player and had great hands, a real ball-playing forward.

Mackie won four caps over a three-year period, playing against Australia in 1975, France and Wales in 1976 and against France in 1978.

He was 6ft 5in and weighed around 15 stone.

He played his entire rugby career at Highland and after retiring from the sport, Baillie, who was originally from Aberdeen, moved to Essex to run a 500-acre farm.

Three weeks before he passed away, Mackie returned to Inverness to visit their new home at Canal Park.

Baillie said Mackie was a man who didn’t enjoy losing and also made Highland a winning team.

He added: “If we lost, he would sit for 30 minutes with his head in his hands.

“I would tell him to get himself together and tell him it’s just a game. He said it might be a game to you, but it was life to him.

“He will be remembered as a real motivator who made Highland a better team. He will go down as one of the club’s most influential players.”

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