Born: November 7, 1933;

Died: November 13, 2021.

ERNIE Michie, who has died aged 88, was an outstanding Scottish rugby internationalist who earned 15 caps as a second-row forward between 1954 and 1957.

He made his debut against France shortly after his 20th birthday when playing for Aberdeen University, while his final cap came against England three years later while he was at London Scottish.

An extremely talented lock who was particularly noted for his line-out expertise and vigorous play in the loose, he was unfortunate not to win more caps, but at that time consistency was not the selectors’ forte.

Among numerous laurels, the ultimate for him was being capped for Scotland. As he once said: “Running out for the first time at Murrayfield playing for Scotland was unbelievable.” Latterly, he was delighted to be given a personalised pair of Scottish Rugby cuff links engraved with his cap number 656.

He also played for North District against New Zealand in 1953 and for North and Midlands District against Australia in 1958. Selected for the British and Irish Lions on their 1955 South African tour, Michie was, at 21, the second youngest member of the party, and he went on to represent the Barbarians seven times.

He also played for the Army, Combined Services, Leicester, Langholm (with whom he won the unofficial Scottish Championship and Border League) and Highland. Later, when he was living in Dornoch, he was instrumental in establishing Sutherland Rugby Club, for whom he played until the late 1970s, and helping them acquire facilities in Brora.

He was a lifelong enthusiast of the sport and it was fitting that during the 2019 World Cup in Japan, where his son Fergus was working for England Rugby, the connection with Michie snr's rugby career was highlighted in the press.

Michie cut his rugby teeth at Aberdeen Grammar School before representing Aberdeen University, where he studied forestry and played in the pipe band. He was first selected for North District aged 19 and after a good performance against New Zealand in Aberdeen was selected for the national trial, leading to his international debut against France.

Times were tough for Scottish rugby as the national team had last won in 1951, and no fewer than 17 successive defeats were recorded before a victory over Wales in 1955, the occasion of Ernie’s fifth cap and one he always recalled fondly.

His excellent form resulted in selection for the Lions on their South African tour, where he played 11 midweek matches. Although unable to secure a Test place, he enhanced the experience by piping the team on to the pitch dressed in full Highland garb. He thoroughly enjoyed the four-month-long tour, his remark that playing there “was like tackling wildebeest on a concrete pitch!” reflecting the physicality of opponents and the hard grounds.

While undertaking national service with the Royal Engineers near London, he represented London Scottish, the Army and Combined Services, and later played for Leicester. During that period he represented the Barbarians seven times, twice on Easter tours to Wales and on a Canadian tour in 1957.

In 1958 work as a district officer with the Forestry Commission took him to Carlisle, where he joined Langholm and played a crucial role in their 1959 success in the Scottish championship and Border League. They did so in considerable style, going through the whole season undefeated, the only one of Britain’s 420 clubs to achieve that feat.

According to team-mate and future internationalist Tom Elliot, “Ernie made a huge impact when he came to Langholm and was one of the standout players in that championship victory.”

For his part Michie held the club in great affection, citing its “tremendous camaraderie” as the best he ever experienced.

By 1963, again because of work, he had moved to Fort Augustus, where he joined Highland Rugby Club in Inverness, for whom he played, coached and refereed for over a decade and with whom he enjoyed a close affinity. That included playing for the club in its 50th anniversary match against an International XV when, aged almost 40, he contested against opposite numbers Gordon and Peter Brown, who were then at their peak.

Ernest James Stewart Michie was born in Dundee, the elder son of Ernest, a doctor, and his wife, Elizabeth. The couple were then resident in Rousay, Orkney, where they returned after Ernie’s birth. Within a few years younger brother Iain appeared as the family moved to Tomintoul, Banff, Bucksburn and then Aberdeen.

Ernie attended Banff Academy and Aberdeen Grammar School before going to Aberdeen University. He met his future wife, Sybil George, a nurse, at a dance in Cairney Parish Church hall near Huntly. The couple married on March 22, 1958, at King’s College Chapel in Aberdeen. They enjoyed 63 years of happy marriage during which they had three children, Iain, Morag and Fergus.

Largely through his employment the couple moved fairly frequently, living in Carlisle, Fort Augustus, Inverness, Dornoch and Castle Douglas, where Michie retired in the early 1990s before returning to Dornoch and, several years later, moving to Inverness, where they remained.

He became a keen golfer and irrespective of weather conditions played Royal Dornoch every Sunday, and enjoyed walking his dog, Mac, over the links. A nature lover and great fan of the outdoors, landscape gardening was another absorbing interest.

A fairly reserved and self -effacing gent who never publicised his accomplished sporting past or wanted any fuss made of it or him, he enjoyed a laugh and a joke and was always mindful of others.

He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren Ailsa, Ruaraidh, Erin, Hamish and Ewan. He was predeceased by his brother Iain, who had emigrated to Canada; Ernie maintained close contact with his niece, Brenda, and nephew Iain.