150 years since the first international rugby match Rugby Union News

Scotland won first rugby international when they beat England with two tries and one goal

Last updated: 27/03/21 9:13 pm

The Scottish team of 1871 defeated England

The Scottish team of 1871 defeated England

The 150th anniversary of the first international rugby match, played between Scotland and England, will be celebrated at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and assistant Mike Blair are expected to attend, along with the Calcutta Cup, at Raeburn Place, home of Edinburgh Academicals and the site of the match on 27 March 1871.

Townsend and Blair come straight from Paris, where Scotland beat France 27-23 in their last game of the Six Nations on Friday afternoon.

Scotland first won rugby internationals in 1871 with two tries and one goal, in a game of 20 players each side, with 4,000 spectators in attendance. This follows a challenge by five of Scotland’s top clubs to English footballers to play a game with rugby rules.

Edinburgh Accies Range, Raeburn Place

Edinburgh Accies Range, Raeburn Place

At the time, competitive sport was very popular in Victorian society, and the rules of football and rugby were gradually being developed as separate codes, but while football was a common sport in England, rugby was mainly in Scotland.

The game had a major impact on the development of the game of rugby, increased participation and interest in the sport, and led directly to the creation of the RFU in October 1871. England won a replay the following year in London; the Calcutta Cup was first offered as a trophy in the 1879 game, and the nations have been playing each other every year since.

Many of the 40 players – Scotland’s Alfred Clunies-Ross, the first black player to play international sport – went on to play key roles in the development not only of rugby but of a number of sports all over the world.

This year’s anniversary coincides with the start of the filming of a documentary about the 1871 game, “The Great Game”, which will be part of the new International Rugby Museum currently under construction at the center. refurbished at Raeburn Place.

The Raeburn Place Foundation, the charity in charge of running the land, is also launching an application for anyone with rugby memorabilia such as photos, diaries, jerseys and hats to come along. A number of important items have already appeared in the International Rugby Museum and in the documentary “The Great Game”.

English rugby team 1871

English rugby team 1871

Commenting on the project, Alastair Graham of the Raeburn Place Foundation said: “The 150th anniversary of the first ever international rugby confirms the importance of Raeburn Place in history not just in rugby international, but in sport.

“Raeburn Place is one of the hidden streams of culture and sport, and many people still do not understand its importance. Land redevelopment will not only put it back at the center of the community, promotes sport and heritage, but also reinforces its unique status as the birthplace of international rugby.

“The commissioning of the documentary The Great Game is a strong signal of the revitalization of Raeburn Place, and marks the beginning of the next phase of our project – the International Museum of Rugby, on the ground where it all began. “