Scotland national rugby union team

Scotland national rugby union team

Rugby team
country =Scotland

union = Scottish Rugby Union
ground = Murrayfield Stadium
captain = Mike Blair
emblem = the Carduus
caps = Chris Paterson (88)
top scorer = Chris Paterson (687)
most tries = Ian Smith, Tony Stanger (24)
coach = flagicon|Scotland Frank Hadden
from = 2005
pattern_la1=_scotlandh|pattern_b1=_scotlandh|pattern_ra1=_scotlandh| socks1 = 1A2D69|shorts1 = 1A2D69
pattern_la2 =_scotlanda
pattern_b2 =_scotlanda| pattern_ra2 =_scotlanda|shorts2 = 1A2D69 | socks2 = 1A2D69
first = (also the world's first)
ru|SCO 4 - 1 ru-rt|ENG
(27 March, 1871)
bigwin = ru|SCO 100 - 8 ru-rt|JPN
(13 November, 2004)
bigloss = ru|SCO 10 - 68 ru-rt|RSA
(6 December, 1997)
World cup apps = 6
year = 1987
best = 4th, 1991
The Scotland national rugby union team represent Scotland in international rugby union. Rugby union in Scotland is administered by the Scottish Rugby Union. The Scotland rugby union team is currently ranked 10th in the IRB world rankings as at 9th June 2008 and makes up one quarter of the British and Irish Lions rugby team. They annually take part in the Six Nations and participate in the Rugby World Cup, which takes place every four years.

Scottish rugby dates back to 1871, where they beat England in the first international rugby union match at Raeburn Place. Since it started in 1883, Scotland competed in the Five Nations winning it 14 times outright - including the last ever Five Nations in 1999 - and sharing it another 8. In 2000 the competition accepted a sixth competitor, Italy, thus forming the Six Nations. Since this change, Scotland have yet to win the competition. The Rugby World Cup was introduced in 1987 and Scotland have competed in all five competitions, the last being in 2007. Scotland's best finish came in 1991, where they lost to the All Blacks in the third place play-off.

Scotland have a strong rivalry with the English national team. They both annually compete for the Calcutta Cup. Each year, this fixture is played out as part of the Six Nations. Scotland are the current holders after their 15-9 win in the 2008 Six Nations at their regular home ground of Murrayfield. However, in recent years, Scotland have recorded few victories over their "Auld Enemy", beating them just four times since 1990. Furthermore, their last away victory over England was in 1983.



The Scots issue a challenge

The newspaper notice advertising the very first rugby international match - inconspicuous by being slotted in betweenother items. (From The Scotsman, 27.3.1871)In December 1870, following a series of England v. Scotland eleven-a-side football matches played in London (all ofwhich were won by England), a group of Scots players issued a letter of challenge in The Scotsman and in Bell's Lifein London, to play an England XX at the carrying game. The English could hardly ignore such a challenge and this ledto the first-ever rugby international match being played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, on Monday 27 March, 1871.The Scots won the encounter by a goal and a try to a solitary try scored by England (a points scoring system had notthen been devised).

The Calcutta Cup

The Calcutta Cup was gifted to the Rugby Football Union in 1878 by the members of the short-lived Calcutta RugbyClub. The members had decided to disband: the cup was crafted from melted-down silver rupees which becameavailable when the Club's funds were withdrawn from the bank. The Cup is unique in that it is competed for annuallyonly by England and Scotland. The first Calcutta Cup match was played in 1879 and, since that time, over 100matches have taken place.

In December 1870, following a series of England v. Scotland eleven-a-side football matches played in London (all of which were won by England), a group of Scots players issued a letter of challenge in The Scotsman and in Bell's Life in London, to play an England XX at the carrying game. The first ever international rugby union game was played on the cricket field of The Edinburgh Academy at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh on March 27, 1871 between England and Scotland. The Scots won the encounter by a goal and a try to a solitary try scored by England, though England got revenge at the Kennington Oval, London in the following year. (See the [ library] of the Scottish Rugby Union for details.)

The Scots enjoyed periodic success in the early days vying with Wales in the first decade of the 20th century. However, their Triple Crown win in 1907 would be the last for eighteen years as the First World War (1914-18) and England intervened to deny them glory.

In 1897 land was purchased, by the SFU, at Inverleith, Edinburgh. Thus the SFU became the first of the Home Unions to own its own ground. The first visitors were Ireland, on 18 February 1899 (Scotland 3 Ireland 9). International rugby was played at Inverleith until 1925. The SFU bought some land and built the first Murrayfield Stadium which was opened on 21 March 1925.


In 1925 Scotland already had victories over France at Inverleith (25-4), Wales in Swansea (24-14) and Ireland in Dublin (14-8). England, the Grand Slam champions of the two previous seasons were the first visitors to Murrayfield. 70,000 spectators saw the lead change hands three times before Scotland secured a 14-11 victory which gave them their first-ever Five Nations Grand Slam.

In 1926, Scotland became the first Home nation side to defeat England at Twickenham after England had won the Grand Slam five times in eight seasons.

The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought rugby union in Scotland to a halt. The SRU cancelled all arranged trial and international matches and encouraged the member clubs to carry on as best they could. Some clubs closed down, others amalgamated and carried on playing other local clubs and, sometimes, teams from the armed forces stationed in their various areas.


Official internationals resumed in the 1946-7 season. In the Spring of 1946, Scotland played and defeated a strong New Zealand and Forces team.

The period after World War Two was not a successful one for Scotland. In 1951, the touring Springboks massacred Scotland 44-0 scoring nine tries, a then record defeat. Scotland suffered 17 successive defeats between February 1951 and February 1955, scored only 54 points in these 17 games: 11 tries, six conversions, and four penalties.

The teams from 1955-63 were an improvement. There were no win over England, but three of the games were drawn and only twice was the margin of defeat more than a single. 1964 was a good year for Scotland New Zealand were held to a 0-0 draw, the last international match in which no points were scored. The Calcutta Cup was won 15-6, the first time since 1950 and they shared the Five Nations title in 1964 with Wales.

In 1971 the SRU appointed Bill Dickinson as their head coach, after years of avoidance, as it was their belief that rugby should remain an amateur sport. He was officially designated as an "adviser to the captain".

Scotland were the first of the Home Unions to run a truly nationwide club league. This was introduced in 1973 and still flourishes today with several of the country's original clubs still very much in evidence, such as Heriots, West of Scotland, Watsonians and the famous 'border' clubs such as Gala, Hawick, Jed-Forest, Kelso and Melrose. However the advent of professionalism saw Scotland's District championship abandoned and two (later three) 'Super Districts' formed, which have resulted in the top players generally being unavailable for their clubs. These teams play in international club competitions such as the Heineken Cup and the Celtic League.


Jim Telfer became national coach in 1980.

Scotland toured Australia and won the first test, which to date is Scotland's only away victory against any of the big three Southern Hemisphere sides. After this, the 1983 season was a disappointment, with only one victory at Twickenham in the last match.

The 1983-84 season brought a draw with the All Blacks 25-25 in the late autumn and their second Grand Slam captained by Jim Aitken. Jim Telfer stood down after the Grand Slam to concentrate on his professional career as a school master. He was succeeded by his assistant, the former Hawick fly-half, Colin Telfer.

Scotland went to the first World Cup, played in New Zealand and Australia in the summer of 1987. Rutherford, the team’s general and controlling influence, badly injured his knee on an unauthorised tour of Bermuda. He broke down after less than a quarter of an hour of the first World Cup match against France and never played for Scotland again. Scotland had been in the lead but the match finished level and Scotland had to face New Zealand in the quarter-final. They lost.

Their greatest year in the modern era, however, was 1990 when, captained by prop David Sole, their season came down to one game, a Grand Slam decider at Murrayfield against the "auld enemy" and hot favourites, England. Sole famously walked his men onto the field with quiet but steely determination, to the delight of the partisan home crowd. Scotland won 13-7, and with it their third Grand Slam.

The second World Cup took place in 1991 with matches shared between the Five Nations. Scotland won their pool, though the game against Ireland was close, and then beat Western Samoa in the quarter-final. They went out to England in the semi-final held at Murrayfield to a Rob Andrew drop goal. In the third place play-off they were again beaten by New Zealand.

The third World Cup, held in South Africa, came around in 1995. The tournament followed a familiar pattern: a narrow defeat by France, thanks to an injury-time try, meant that, as second in the pool, they faced a quarter-final against New Zealand and were eliminated.

Scotland also won the last-ever Five Nations Championship in 1999 with some dashing displays of 15-man rugby and to a last minute win by Wales over England, but that year’s World Cup ended the usual way, with a quarter-final defeat by New Zealand.

They endured a torrid Six Nations in 2000, losing their first four straight games. Nevertheless at the last hurdle, they pulled off a magnificent 19-13 win under captain Andy Nicol over an unbeaten England at a rain-soaked Murrayfield to prove that there is still plenty of pride and passion in Scottish rugby.

2003 season & the future

After a poor start in the Six Nations 2003-04 in which Scotland did not win a single match and so qualified for rugby's version of the wooden spoon, things were believed to be steadily improving once again under the Australian coach Matt Williams, the first foreigner to coach the national team.

Despite setbacks, many new and talented young players are coming through to the top level. Yet the record for 2004 was disappointing: Played 12, Won 2, Lost 10. Williams also attempted to introduce a controversial "Fortress Scotland" policy, whereby only those currently playing in Scotland were eligible to play in the national team. Meanwhile the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) is under new management, Chief Executive Phil Anderton (known as 'Firework Phil' for his pre-match entertainment spectacles) was leading the way back to financial solvency and implementing major reforms to reverse the decline of the game in Scotland, but he resigned in January 2005 after his boss David Mackay was forced to resign by the SRU's general committee. Since then, much effort and thought has gone into restructuring the way the game is governed in Scotland.

Under Frank Hadden

Frank Hadden, the head coach of Edinburgh Gunners (previously a PE teacher at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh), was appointed interim coach for the 2005 summer internationals against the Barbarians and Romania, winning two from two and instilling confidence in the national side again. On the 15 September, 2005, he was appointed national coach of the Scotland team up to and including the 2007 World Cup and has so far done an excellent job with limited resources compared to most of his opponents.

In the first match of the 2006 Six Nations campaign, against France, Scotland won 20-16, and this was the first time since 1999 that they had beaten France. Scotland also beat England 18-12 at home at Murrayfield on February 25, 2006 to reclaim the Calcutta Cup.

In the 2006 Autumn internationals Scotland won two of three fixtures. They convincingly beat Romania and put up a solid first half performance against the Pacific Islanders. In the final match against Australia, Scotland failed to impress. A sound first half performance was squandered with an uncharacteristicly poor defence in the second. Australia went on to win the game 44-15. The series provided a mixture of advances and setbacks. Scotland lost several key players through injury, notbly captain Jason White was suffered a knee injury and missed the entire 2007 Six Nations Championship.

Scotland suffered a humiliating defeat on February 24, 2007 when they became the first Six Nations team to lose at home to Italy, 17-37. This was Italy's biggest ever victory over Scotland, home or away. After only six minutes of the match Scotland were already trailing 0-21, due to a clearance kick being charged down and two interceptions by the Italians (caused by poor choice of game plan and sloppy passing in the 9/10 channel). Man of the match was awarded to Italian Alessandro Troncon, who scored a late try to put the match out of reach.

Later that year, the side travelled to France for the rugby world cup. They fought their way through a difficult group and made it to the quarter finals where they were knocked out by Argentina.

Despite the promising World Cup, Scotland did not emerge into the Six Nations as the dark horses the media had predicted. Scotland opened their campaign at home but lost 27-6 to France. Pressure on Frank Hadden started to intensify after round 2 as Scotland lost 30-15 to a rejuvenated Wales side who could have scored more. Scotland finally managed to score a try, against Ireland, despite losing. They didn't need to score a try against England however as they regained the Calcutta Cup with a 15-9 victory in a dull contest. Scotland scored two tries against Italy but lost thanks to a drop goal in the last minute to go down 23-20. Scotland managed to avoid the wooden spoon on scoring difference but it was a disappointing campaign. They then toured Argentina to play two tests against Argentina. They lost the first test 21-15 and won the second 26-14.

Thistle and the anthem

The thistle is the national flower, and also the symbol of the Scotland national rugby union team. According to legend the "guardian thistle" has played its part in the defence of Scotland against a night attack by the Danes, one of whom let out a yell of pain when he stepped barefoot on a thistle, alerting the Scottish defenders. The Latin Nemo me impune lacessit ("No-one provokes me with impunity!" in English) is an ancient motto of the Kings of Scotland, and also of Scotland's premier chivalric order, the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, and of the Scots Guards (the latter both "belonging" to the monarch).

"The Flower of Scotland" has been used since 1990 as Scotland's unofficial national anthem. It was written by Roy Williamson of the Corries in 1967, and adopted by the SRU to replace "God Save the Queen". In the first year of using "The Flower of Scotland" as an anthem, Scotland walked onto the pitch at the beginning of the Five Nations Championship deciding match against England. This combination was explosive and Scotland went on to beat England 13-7 and win the Five Nations Championship with a Grand Slam.


Scotland have traditionally worn navy blue jerseys, white shorts and blue socks. However, the recent team uniform made by Canterbury of New Zealand has Scotland wearing navy blue shorts. The team sponsor used to be The Famous Grouse, a brand of Scotch whisky whose logo is shown on the team jersey and shorts. In France, where alcohol sponsorship is banned by law, the regular logo was replaced with "TFG". On the occasion that Scotland is the home side and the opposing team normally wears dark colours, Scotland will use its change strip. Traditionally this is a white jersey with navy blue shorts and socks. For a brief period, when Cotton Oxford were the shirt sponsors, the white shirt was replaced by a bright orange one with orange and blue hoops on the sleeves. This was first used against the New Zealand Māori November 14, 1998. This change strip was replaced by the traditional white one just two years later. Also during this sponsorship deal, purple was introduced to the traditional blue jersey. This was a significant departure from the traditional colours of blue and white, although purple is inspired from the thistle flower.

On September 3, 2007 it was announced that Rangers F.C. chairman Sir David Murray's company would become the new shirt sponsor, investing £2.7 million over the next three years. This came as The Famous Grouse ended its 17 year relationship with the team the month prior to this. The Famous Grouse however, have maintained a low profile link to the Scottish Rugby Union by becoming the main spirit sponsor. This deal is thought to be worth a tenth of the original cost and forbids the Scottish Rugby Union from affiliating itself from any other whisky manufacturer.

There is a long running campaign to have the word "Alba", which is Gaelic for Scotland on the national rugby strip. [ [ Scottish Rugby Union: "Put 'Alba' on Scottish Ruby Shirt" | Facebook ] ] . [cite news | url = | title = BBC Alba - Gàidhlig air lèintean rugbaidh na h-Alba] Since 2005, the SFA have supported the use of Scots Gaelic on their teams's strip in recognition of the language's revival in Scotland. [cite news | url = | title = BBC Scotland - Gaelic added to Scotland strips]


Six Nations

Rugby Union Five Nations Championship Grand Slams (including Triple Crown): 1925, 1984, 1990.

Triple Crown: seven times winners.

Scotland was also the last Five Nations Champion in 1998-99. (The following year Italy joined the competition to make it the Six Nations.)

World Cup

Scotland has competed in every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. Their best finish was fourth in 1991. In their semi-final on October 26 1991 Scotland lost 6–9 to England at Murrayfield after Gavin Hastings missed a penalty almost in front of and a short distance from the posts. On October 30 Scotland lost the third-place play-off to New Zealand in Cardiff 13–6. Since then they have qualified for the quarter-finals in every tournament, but have not since qualified for the semi-finals.


Scotland achieved 100 points for the first time in defeating a young and inexperienced Japan side 100-8 on November 13, 2004. The previous record had been 89-0 against Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in the first round of Rugby World Cup 1995. The game versus Japan was played at the home of St. Johnstone Football Club, McDiarmid Park, Perth. It was the first time that Scotland had ever played "North of the Forth" (i.e. the River Forth) in the Caledonian region. In the same game Chris Paterson moved ahead of Andy Irvine in the list of Scotland's all-time points scorers.

Their Test match record against all nations:cite web| url= |title=Scotland > Head to Head Table | |accessdate=2007-09-04]

Notable victories

Although more recently considered underdogs of the Five Nations and Six Nations Championship, Scotland have managed a good many notable upset or "banana skin" victories, for example:


Scotland 15 England 9 (Six Nations Championship, March 8, 2008)
Scotland 21 Wales 9 (Six Nations Championship, February 10, 2007)
Scotland 18 England 12 (Six Nations Championship, February 25, 2006)
Scotland 20 France 16 (Six Nations Championship, February 5, 2006)
Scotland 19 England 13 (Six Nations Championship, 2000)
Scotland 13 England 7 (Five Nations Championship, 1990)
Scotland 10 Wales 9 (Five Nations Championship, 1973)
Scotland 19 Wales 0 (Five Nations Championship, 1951)
Scotland 14 England 11 (Five Nations Championship, 1925)


France 21 Scotland 23 (Five Nations Championship, Paris, 1995)

France 22 Scotland 36 (Five Nations Championship, Paris, 1999)

Another notable victory outside the six nations was the 21-6 victory over South Africa in 2002 at Murrayfield.


Current squad

A 50-man training squad selected, on the 16 September 2008, for the Autumn tests.

Notable players

Four former Scotland players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame:
*Gordon Brown (' [ Broon frae Troon] ')
*Gavin Hastings, captain of the British Lions, full back
*Andy Irvine, full back, Scottish captain and British Lion
*Ian McGeechan

Greatest XV

This has been selected by popular vote on the SRU's website and, subject to further voting, is as follows. Naturally it tends to exclude pre-1945 players, some of whom might make an all-time great Scottish XV but whose play would only have been seen by a few fans voting in the internet age.

15 Gavin Hastings
14 Andy Irvine
13 Alan Tait
12 Jim Renwick
11 Roger Baird
10 John Rutherford
9 Gary Armstrong
8 Simon Taylor
7 Finlay Calder
6 John Jeffrey
5 Scott Murray
4 Gordon Brown
3 Iain Milne
2 Colin Deans
1 David Sole, captain


Noteworthy coaches (also players): Ian McGeechan, Jim Telfer

Recent national coaches have been foreigners. Frank Hadden a Scot, succeeded the Australian Matt Williams who was sacked with his staff early in 2005. Frank Hadden, the former coach of the highly successful Merchiston Castle School rugby team, and the coach of the most successful rugby team in Scotland, Edinburgh Gunners, was named interim coach for two internationals in 2005, winning them both. He was confirmed as head coach in autumn 2005. His assistants include Sean Lineen and Shade Munro.

Iain Paxton and Peter Wright agreed to take over coaching the national U-21 and U-19 sides respectively at the end of 2004. See [ here] for details. They both have ambitions to coach the senior squad eventually.

ee also

*Six Nations Championship
*Rugby World Cup
*Rugby union in Scotland
*Calcutta Cup
*Scotland national rugby union team (sevens)
*British and Irish Lions


* [ History of Scottish Rugby] on the SRU website
* [ Allan Massie on the Scottish rugby team from about 1940 to 1990]
* [ The age of Telfer] by Allan Massie


External links

* [,,5323-2059897,00.html Favourites find Scotland grit hard to swallow: Scotland 18 England 12] , The Times, February 27, 2006
* [ Scottish Rugby Union] - the official site of Scottish Rugby
* [ Scottish Rugby Radio]
* [ Guide to Scottish Rugby] (The Scotsman)
* [,,2090-1368590,00.html A song for Scotland] - an article on the ongoing discussions about which song should represent Scotland before international rugby and soccer (football) games. (Sunday Times, November 21, 2004)
* [ Scottish rugby union news from Planet Rugby]
* [ Scottish rugby union fans forum]
* [ Alba/Scotland rugby petition]

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