Former Scotland lock forward, and Lions Tourist passes away aged 88.
Highland Rugby is saddened to hear of the death of former player, Scotland lock Ernie Michie, who passed away on Saturday night aged 88.
Ernest James Stewart Michie was born in Aberdeen on November 7, 1933 and was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School where he was an outstanding member of the first XV.
Ernie, who worked as a district officer for the Forestry Commission – a job that took him around Scotland and England – played for Highland towards the end of his playing career when his job took him to the area in the 1960’s.
When he moved to Inverness in the 1960s, he quickly became heavily involved at Highland Rugby Club both on and off the field.
From his first taste of adult rugby at Aberdeen University, Ernie went on to play for Aberdeen GSFP, the Army , the Combined Services Team, Leicester, London Scottish and Langholm, as well as Highland. During his time at Langholm he helped them become unofficial Scottish champions and Border League winners in 1958-59.
It has to be said that Ernie had started to make his mark on rugby about 20 years before his time at Highland. He made his debut for the North of Scotland as a teenager. In 1954 Ernie was chosen to play for the Scotland team in middle of what was a low point for nations international game – Scotland had been three years without a win before Ernie Michie donned the famous blue jersey.
Capped out of Aberdeen University, Ernie, won a total of 15 caps for Scotland between 1954 and 1957, and as a 21-year-old, Michie was one of the famous XV who brought the run of 17 successive defeats over four years to an end. Ernie scored his only international try in a 10-14 loss to Ireland in Dublin in 1956, & his final cap was against England at Twickenham the following year.
He toured with the British Lions to Southern Africa in 1955 playing in 11 matches without making the test side. He scored a try in the final match of the tour against East Africa in Nairobi.
Ernie may not have made the pitch for the tests but still managed to have an involvement on game day. Ernie had taken his bagpipes with him on tour, and he would pipe the Test team onto the park in full Highland dress. He said “Why shouldn’t I have taken my pipes, it made sense to me”.
Ernie also played for the Barbarians on seven occasions, including their North America tour in 1957 scoring a try in a big victory over British Columbia.
Ernie, generously passed a number of international shirts and other memorabilia to Highland during a visit to the new clubhouse with his family a couple of years ago. As it turned out it was Ladies Day. Ernie was delighted to leave them to their raucous celebrations as it meant that he didn’t have to give a speech which is a measure of the man – no fuss necessary.
Former Club President, and Ernie’s teammate, Ian Nixon said “Ernie was the most modest guy I’ve ever met, as whilst rugby was always the first topic of conversation, his own achievements – of which there are many – were never brought up.”
Highland Rugby Club extends our deepest sympathies to Ernie’s wife, Sybil, sons Ian and Fergus, daughter Morag, and to all his many family and friends.