Here's the lowdown on the oldest trophy in the Test game
For the uninitiated, when the Six Nations is on the telly, you might hear the build-up to the oldest rivalry in Test rugby and ask yourself: What is the Calcutta Cup?
Every year England and Scotland compete for the right to hold aloft the Calcutta Cup. The trophy is named after now-defunct Calcutta RFC, who formed in India in 1873 after the relative success of a Christmas Day fixture on the subcontinent, in which 20 Scots and 20 English players reputedly competed the year before.
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However, according to the legend, when the team disbanded in 1878, the remaining silver rupees in the club’s coffers were melted down to make a trophy – the Calcutta Cup – and gifted it to the Rugby Football Union (RFU). In 1879, Scotland and England met in Edinburgh for the first-ever Calcutta clash. It ended in a draw.
The inaugural Calcutta Cup match saw the two sides met at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh Academicals’ home ground, on 10 March 1879. Yet the trophy already had records from previous ties engraved on the plinth, with results dating back to 1871. That run included three draws, three wins for England and two wins for Scotland.
That first Calcutta clash ended 3-3. Scotland’s Ninian Finlay scored a drop-goal while the English slotted a goal thanks to Lennard Stokes. They then had a try by George Burton, but in those days a try was not worth any points – in those days a ‘try’ gave you the chance to shoot at goal, hence the name.
To date (2024) England have held the Cup 82 times and by the Scots 47 times. As it stands, Scotland have won three Calcutta Cup matches in a row, and have held it five out of the last six seasons.
Note, if a match is drawn, the team who won it last retain the Calcutta Cup.