Trailblazers inducted into Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame
To mark the 150th anniversary of the first-ever international rugby match, Scottish Rugby is to induct the entire 1871 Scotland team into its Hall of Fame. The decision was confirmed today by Scottish Rugby Chairman, John Jeffrey and immediately won royal seal of approval.
So, the Scotland players who recorded a victory against England by a goal and a try to a try on 27 March 1871, join 27 luminaries – who have played starring roles in forging Scottish Rugby’s rich and enduring history both on and off the field – in the Hall of Fame.
Jeffrey said: “The 20 men who took to the field at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh wearing the thistle of Scotland that Monday afternoon in 1871 against their counterparts wearing the rose of England were the perfect pioneers.
“Their determination to ensure Scotland gave a good account of its prowess under Rugby rules cradled a game that is now played by over 8 million men and women in more than 120 countries. What a debt of gratitude we owe them!
“To mark the 150th anniversary, Scottish Rugby is delighted, for the first time, to induct an entire team into our Hall of Fame.”
The news was welcomed by Scottish Rugby’s patron, HRH The Princess Royal. In a special video message to mark the milestone, Her Royal Highness told scottishrugby.org: “As international rugby celebrates its 150th anniversary, let us remember the pioneers who masterminded that first game. Theirs is a wonderfully compelling legacy.
“I am delighted that Scottish Rugby will induct those innovators supreme from the 1871 Scotland team into its Hall of Fame. Timely recognition for unsung heroes.” HRH The Princess Royal
The full message from HRH The Princess Royal will be available on scottishrugby.org this Saturday to mark the 150th anniversary.
The match occurred after five Scottish club captains – Alexander Robertson (West of Scotland), Francis Moncreiff (Edinburgh Accies), Benjamin Hall Blyth (Merchistonians), John Arthur (Glasgow Accies) and John Oatts (St Andrews University) – had issued a challenge via the Press to English players.
Rather like today, there was some dispute around the Scotland tries, the first scored by Angus Buchanan, the second by Willie Cross. It was Cross’s conversion of Buchanan’s try that proved the match-winner in the scoring system of the time.
England’s try came from Reg Birkett.
In his diary, John Arthur, who played half-back, recalled match day: “This proved to be a glorious spring day, Edinburgh looked at its best and we were proud, proud lads when we turned out at Raeburn Place, the ground of the Edinburgh Academicals, to play the first real International match.
“Prouder still were we when we marched off the field victors with a goal and a try to a try. I had the honour of placing the ball for Willie Cross who kicked the first International goal for Scotland.”
From the Scotland pack, Robert Irvine, Blair Atholl born, better known by his evocative nickname, Bulldog, spoke of the trepidation going into the fixture, again a recurring phenomenon over the years.
He wrote: “Many of us entered the match with a sort of vague fear that some entirely new kind of play would be shown by our opponents and that they would outmanoeuvre us entirely.
“The day of the match soon settled that uncertainty. The English 20 were big and heavy – probably bigger and heavier than ours, but not overpoweringly so.
“Before we had played ten minutes, we were on good terms with each other. Each side had made a discovery; we, that our opponents were flesh and blood like ourselves and could be mauled back and tackled and knocked about just like other men.
“They, that in this far north land, rugby players existed who could maul, tackle and play up with the best of them.”
These heroes are now inducted into our Hall of Fame:
Backs: Tom Chalmers (Glasgow Accies), William Brown (Glasgow Accies), Alfred Clunies-Ross (St Andrews University)
Half-backs: Thomas Marshall (Edinburgh Accies), John Arthur (Glasgow Accies), Willie Cross (Merchistonians)
Forwards: Francis Moncreiff CAPTAIN, Jim Finlay, Bulldog Irvine, James Mein (all Edinburgh Accies), Daniel Drew (Glasgow Accies), William Lyall (Edinburgh Accies), Andrew Colville (Merchistonians), John Thomson (Glasgow Accies), George Ritchie (Merchistonians), William Forsyth (Edinburgh University), Alexander Robertson (West of Scotland), Robert Munro (St Andrews University), Angus Buchanan (Royal High School FP) and John McFarlane (Edinburgh University).
They join the 27 current members of Scottish Rugby’s Hall of Fame:
David Bedell-Sivright; Phil Macpherson; Ned Haig; Ken Scotland; Sandy Carmichael MBE; Andy Irvine MBE; Finlay Calder OBE; Bill McLaren CBE; Gavin Hastings OBE; Sir Ian McGeechan; Jim Telfer MBE; Gordon Brown; Mark Morrison; Ian Smith; Hughie McLeod OBE; Ian McLauchlan OBE; Jim Renwick; David Leslie; Gary Armstrong OBE; Chris Paterson MBE; Norman Mair, John Rutherford; Douglas Elliot; Donna Kennedy; Mark Robertson, James Robson MBE and Doddie Weir OBE.