Celebrating 150 years of international rugby

Celebrating 150 years of international rugby

Over the next two months, Scottish Rugby will be celebrating 150 years of international rugby since the first ever match in 1871 against England at Raeburn Place.

It started on a Monday afternoon, shortly after 3pm, in the Edinburgh suburb of Stockbridge, 150 years ago. Scottish Rugby is immensely proud that our pioneering forefathers were there right from that first kick-off on 27 March 1871 at Raeburn Place, the cricket field, as it was at the time, of Edinburgh Accies.

And now, 150 years later, we are privileged to reflect on an international game played in more than 120 countries with a total playing population of more than 8 million.

A game that has now seen 1,113 players represent Scotland, from cap number one, John Arthur, a half-back, of Glasgow Accies to our most recent internationalist, Jaco van der Walt, the Edinburgh stand-off.

Over the next nine weeks leading up to the anniversary, Scottish Rugby will look back over the 150 years and chart the evolution of the game. Activity to mark the anniversary will include:

  • A multi-channel digital campaign that will dive into the Scottish Rugby archives
  • Exclusive editorial reads and digital content looking back on and paying homage to key events, coaches and players in the game
  • A special edition of our digital ‘Support from Home’ pack will be released ahead of Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations match against England on Saturday 6 February
  • NEVIS and MACDUI members can look out for exclusive content in the upcoming editions of ‘The Front Row’ digital magazine
  • Activities and competitions in Scottish Rugby’s online Fanzone
  • Exclusive activities for Junior Supporters Club members
  • Newly designed phone covers are available here
  • Desktop and phone wallpapers, celebrating Scotland players and fixtures from through the years

The first match, fittingly, pitted Scotland against England and came about after five Scottish club captains had issued a challenge to English players “to play us a match, 20-a-side, rugby rules, either in Edinburgh or Glasgow.”

The challenge appeared as a letter in The Scotsman and Bell’s Life on 8 December 1870. The match saw Scotland win by a goal and a try to a try, despite controversy around the awarding of two of the tries. In the weeks ahead, we will look at the contest in some detail.

Join us to look back at the most memorable moments of Scottish rugby history that captured the imagination of supporters, whether here at home or overseas.

We’ll recall Scotland’s Grand Slams of 1925, 1984 and 1990 and the arrival of the Rugby World Cup competition from 1987 onwards.

We’ll recount the birth of women’s international rugby, the role of Raeburn Place in its development as it hosted the first Scotland Women’s international in 1993 and the Women’s World Cup final in 1994. Reflecting, too, on the Scotland Women’s Grand Slam in 1998.

Scotland enjoyed two victories over England in the space of a week in 1971 and we’ll reflect on the celebrations of the centenary of international rugby that same year.

We’ll savour the fundraising exercise in Melrose in 1883 that spawned the game of seven-a-side rugby and how that abbreviated game fashioned rugby’s return to the Olympics.

We look forward to reflecting on 150 years of the game we love, and we’d encourage you share your memories of the game with us, #AsOne.

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