National One: Highland and Biggar beat the conditions … but not each other

Both clubs remain committed to their goal of promotion into the Premiership whilst recognising it won't happen this season

Highland and Biggar fought out a 15-15 draw in arctic conditions at Canal Park in Inverness on Saturday. Image: Nigel Pacey
Highland and Biggar fought out a 15-15 draw in arctic conditions at Canal Park in Inverness on Saturday. Image: Nigel Pacey

HIGHLAND missed out on the opportunity to close the gap on National One runaway leaders Ayr, who look racing certainties to claim the only promotion slot on offer into the Premiership at the end of this season, after the Inverness men were held to a 15-15 draw by a never-say-die Biggar side who have now gone four games without defeat.

After their horrible start to the season in which the Lanarkshire outfit lost their opening seven games, Biggar look back on track for a high finish in the top National League, and had they taken advantage of their late pressure could have snatched victory from the home side who themselves squandered chances in the freezing conditions of Canal Park on a day when only two games in the men’s leagues survived the weather.

Highland were not surprisingly disappointed not to pick up five points, especially when the Northeners are usually home bankers on their own artificial pitch, and like fellow challengers who include Glasgow Acccies, Melrose, Watsonians and Gala, they must now pretty well accept Ayr are out of sight in the race for the title.


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The pity of it is that with only one promotion place up for grabs, the supporters of the aforementioned sides are being denied an exciting run in to the end of the season. A point made last season by Davie Carson, the Highland coach, who has master-minded the club to five promotions since first taking charge of the team in 2012.

”It just doesn’t make sense, particularly as there are a clutch of clubs vying for second place in a very competitive set up, denying supporters a great end to the season,” said Carson.

Biggar president Rab Ramsay agreed with Carson’s assessment. ”We are not directly involved but might just have had a part to play when we met some of the contenders,” he said.

“Nothing is new, we were denied promotion to the Premiership in the first year of Covid when the league was suspended with Biggar already assured of the title, but that’s history, and we’ll just have to get on with making our mark in the run-up to our 50th anniversary in two years time.

“In the meantime, we are just going to enjoy the superb hospitality of my opposite number Roy Dinnes in this wonderful facility,”

Despite the anti climatic situation, the two sides knuckled down to provide an enthralling encounter in which Highland scored three unconverted tries through Magnus Henry, Dan Corr and Michael Gray (with a 70 metre solo effort), while Biggar scored two touchdowns through Rowan Stewart and Andrew Jardine, with Euan Bogle kicking a penalty and a conversion, making for a fair outcome, at least in the eyes of the neutral.

The abiding memory from the afternoon was of two sides who are not prepared to rest on their laurels, which in Highland’s case is 100 years of keeping northern rugby on the Scottish map, while Biggar have achieved miracles from their base near to Border territory at the same time as not being not a million miles from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In their 48 years of existence they have come through regional leagues, national leagues and graced the Premiership for two years under Gary Parker.

Present at Saturday’s game were three players from the first ever Biggar match in 1975, including president Ramsay, former president Ian Warnock and historian Al Stewart. ‘

‘When we lined up for that game, we thought the club might survive for a couple of years. And yet here we are looking towards returning to the Premiership, hopefully in time for our 50th anniversary, and generally with lads from the area,” said Ramsay.

Meanwhile, Highland also remain committed to their long time avowed intent to reach the Premiership.

”Perhaps not this season but we have a young, developing squad who are easing themselves into contention,” concluded Carson. “Today our ball retention was not good but this is a team prepared to learn as we go along.”


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About Jack Nixon 74 Articles
Jack is a Borderer, born in Langholm, and a graduate of Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh. He was a founder member of Livingston Rugby Club in 1968 and has been rugby correspondent for the Aberdeen Press and Journal since 1997. He has been going to Murrayfield man and boy since 1954!

9 Comments

  1. Is that the former Glasgow Academy player Michael Gray, who has played Super Series for Stirling and Heriots, now playing for Highland or is it a different Michael Gray?

  2. Rab may call it history, but it still sticks in my throat as one of the worst decisions ever. Biggar actually won the league, were presented with the trophy, the photos were circulated of the silverware being lifted, and then it was taken away from them. No matter which way you spin it it was the wrong decision. Both Highland and Biggar comments are valid, but Ayr have been in such sparkling form this season that no one will be able to catch them – that’s certain. It’s unusual in a 10 team league that a team should be in a different stratosphere right now and this has the knock on effect that there’s very little to challenge for for the other teams at the top end. Contrast that with National 2, 3 and 4 and you get a completely different scenario at the moment. It does though bring into focus the question of 9th place from one division having a play-off with the club which finishes second in the league below. We have seen some great play-off games in the past and I think it’s worth looking at again. There’s certainly a conversation to be had. Just for the record that was Biggar’s second game in a row without losing – they did lose in the match before the Melrose win on November 11th against Ayr by 40-22, but to have three wins and a draw in their last five games is a superb turnaround for the club. Having said that they were so unlucky not to win their first two games when they lost by one point to GHK and two points to Ayr. They also have 4 losing bonus points to their credit too, so good to see the Biggar ship moving away from the relegation zone. Finally a word on Highland, who thoroughly deserve their second position in the table. It must surely be only a matter of time before they get that Premiership place they crave, and with Orkney challenging for promotion too in National 3, there are some positive stories to tell north of the Forth right now.

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    • Well said Stuart.

      It was a disgrace. Biggar and Dalkeith had already won promotion. Orkney were top of their league but had several games left.

      They tried to rectify the matter but were denied.

      Best wishes to Biggar for the rest of the season.

      • AngryGala2 appears to also be MoronicGala2. Is he receiving the help he needs for his problems I wonder?

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      • Angry Gala man2 .should get in touch with Nella from the jungle .
        The 2 of them would get on well ..cos they hate the world
        Both Would cause an argument in an empty house .
        Typical ‘Palemerk ‘antics

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      • No nerve touched AG. Just concerned for your mental health. I hope you are getting the help you so obviously need.

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