Scotland v England: The interesting origins of the Calcutta Cup

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When Scotland host England this Saturday at BT Murrayfield, they’ll be playing for more than just victory in a pivotal Six Nations match.

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We’re not talking about national pride here. Or bragging rights, either. We’re talking about the silver trophy presented to the winner each time the two countries square off: the Calcutta Cup.

As you could probably guess from its title the cup has Indian origins. On Christmas Day 1872, in Calcutta, India, a team of English players faced off against a Scottish, Welsh and Irish select in conditions that were bound to be anything but ‘Christmassy’.

The match was such a success that it led to the foundation of Calcutta Football Club in 1873. Unfortunately, its legacy could not sustain the club’s future and it disbanded just four years later.

When the last of the funds were withdrawn from the bank, they came in the form of silver rupees. These were then melted down and made into a cup.

Scotland and England will battle it out for the Calcutta Cup again on Saturday. Picture: SNS

Scotland and England will battle it out for the Calcutta Cup again on Saturday. Picture: SNS

England’s Rugby Football Union were presented with the freshly made piece of silverware, and they in turn decided the best use for it would be as a trophy presented to the winners of their annual match with Scotland.

The first contest between the nations for the cup would take place in 1879 and the fixture has been an annual tradition since - with the exception of the years during World War I and World War II.

When the sides meet again on Saturday, the prize of the 140-year-old trophy will be as sought after as it ever was.

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