Royal High School FP looking for Cougars ‘divorce’

The merged RHC Cougars team in action against Dunbar. Picture: Lee Bolton
The merged RHC Cougars team in action against Dunbar. Picture: Lee Bolton
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One of the SRU’s founder member clubs is bidding to be re-established for its 150th anniversary season with the news that Royal High School FP wants to go it alone again after 14 years of being merged with Corstorphine RFC.

The “divorce” is to go before the SRU’s Board on Thursday 18 May after splits emerged between the new club’s elements along with a desire to return RHSFP to an individual club for the milestone year.

Scotland's 1990 Grand Slam hero Iwan Tukalo began his career at Royal High. Picture: The Scotsman

Scotland's 1990 Grand Slam hero Iwan Tukalo began his career at Royal High. Picture: The Scotsman

Royal High were formed in 1867 and were founder members of the SRU, then the Scottish Football Union, in 1873. They were one of the powerhouse clubs of the early years of rugby union in the country, producing a number of famous players.

These included the likes of Mark Morrison, who won 23 caps for Scotland between 1896 and 1904 and captained the 1903 British Lions tour to South Africa, and Pringle Fisher, who captained Scotland in the 1960s and was also an Olympic basketballer.

In 2002, Morrison was posthumously inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame and, in 2013, he was also included in the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame.

The 1990 Grand Slam winger Iwan Tukalo was also a former Royal High pupil and a product of the club, who originally played at Jock’s Lodge in the east side of the capital before the Royal High School was relocated to Barnton in the west in 1968.

The Royal High FP team pictured in 1963. Picture: The Scotsman

The Royal High FP team pictured in 1963. Picture: The Scotsman

In 1932-33, under the captaincy of W.D. Emslie, Royal High shared the unofficial championship with Hillhead. The launch of the official championship in 1973 saw a steady decline for the Edinburgh club and in 2003 they merged with Corstorphine to become RHC Cougars.

The aim was to build something similar to the creation of Glasgow Hawks, which saw a successful amalgamation of GHK and Glasgow Academical in 1997.

However, those hopes never materialised and last season RHC finished seventh in National Division 3 – the fourth tier of Scottish club rugby.

The merged club operates out of two facilities with the first XV playing at Barnton and the seconds at Union Park in Carrick Knowe.

The RHC Cougars also run one of Scotland’s best women’s teams, contributing a large number of internationals down the years and finishing third in the Premier League last season.

Royal HSFP has remained as an entity in shell form but, having not played any games or paid subs to the SRU, must apply to form as, effectively, a new club.

If the proposal is approved by the Board it will then be up to the Championship Committee to determine in which league they will play. With Royal High expected to take the bulk of the playing group it remains to be seen what the future holds for Corstorphine, who will technically retain the RHC membership and National Division 3 status. The Scotsman understands that the new Royal High club would be willing to build back up from the East regional leagues.