Scotland and France will compete for a brand new trophy when they meet in the Six Nations at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.
The Auld Alliance Trophy, which honours the war dead from both countries’ rugby communities, will be contested for the first time this weekend in the centenary year of the Armistice.
The trophy specifically commemorates the captains of Scotland and France, both of whom lost their lives in World War I.
Eric Milroy and Marcel Burgun captained their countries in 1914, but Milroy, a machine-gunner with the Black Watch, died aged 29 during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Scrum-half Milroy was brought up in Edinburgh and played with Watsonians before touring South Africa with the British Lions in 1910. He was capped 12 times by Scotland including against France in 1913, with Burgun on the opposing side.
Burgun - an artillery observer and pilot - was shot down and killed the previous summer in 1915.
Born in St Petersburg to a French clock-maker who worked for the Russian Tsar, Burgun turned out for Racing Club in Paris and Castres Olympiques, and played in France’s maiden Championship victory against Scotland in January 1911.
He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Palm, and had a street in Castres named in his memory. His elder brother also died in the early stages of the conflict.
The Auld Alliance Trophy will, despite the prominence of Milroy and Burgun, be a tribute to all war dead from the rugby communities of France and Scotland.
A total of 30 Scottish internationals and 22 French were killed in the conflict, along with many other club players from both countries.
The idea for the trophy stemmed from Patrick Caublot, a member of the Amiens club in northern France, who promoted the idea with Milroy’s great-great nephew David Anderson.
Anderson said: “Eric Milroy and Marcel Burgun, Scotland and France captains in 1914, are named on the trophy.
“They represent the never-forgotten sacrifices made by rugby players of both nations and embody the Auld Alliance that was renewed in the Great War.”
Caublot, who headed up a party from Amiens on a visit to Scottish Rugby’s war memorial today, added: “The trophy underlines that the spirt of the Auld Alliance will live on.”
The duo contacted the French Rugby Federation (FFR) as well as Scottish Rugby in June of last year with a view to commissioning a trophy to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
President of Scottish Rugby Rob Flockhart said: “The sacrifice made by so many from the rugby family in the First World War is never forgotten.
“When we received the proposal for the trophy we knew of the scale of the loss. Yet the personal story of both Milroy and Burgun made the case for the trophy totally compelling.”
Bernard Laporte, President of the FFR, added: “With the Auld Alliance Trophy, the FFR and Scottish Rugby will celebrate the strong relationship between France and Scotland at each tournament.
“It is a strong symbol for our two nations and an important tribute to the victims of the First World War. As of Sunday, the XV of France will have the honour to dispute this new trophy.”
The trophy will be played for annually between the two countries as part of the Six Nations.
On Sunday the trophy will be presented by Laporte and Flockhart, and will be unveiled to the crowd by the youngest generations of the Milroy and Burgun families – 11-year-olds Lachlan Ross and Romain Cabanis.