Scotland national rugby union team

From Academic Kids

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Rugby union in Scotland is administered by the Scottish Rugby Union, a founder member of the International Rugby Board in 1886 with fellow Celtic nations Ireland and Wales. 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 Scottish motto, "me" in this case being the prickly thistle itself.




The first ever international rugby union game was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh on March 27, 1871 between England and Scotland. It was won by Scotland, 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.


Scotland won their first ever Five Nations Grand Slam in 1925 - the first year playing in their new Murrayfield home which is the headquarters of Scottish rugby to this day.


The period after World War Two was not a successful one for Scotland, although they shared the Five Nations title in 1964 with Wales.

Scotland were the first of the British Isles Unions to run a truly nation-wide 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.

1974-The present

Grand Slam winners on three occasions so far, the Scots have also won the Triple Crown a further seven times. They won their second Grand Slam in 1984, captained by Jim Aitken.

However, their greatest year in the modern era was 1990 when, captained by prop David Sole, their season came down to one game, a Grand Slam decider at Murrayfield against the old 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.

Scotland also won the last-ever Five Nations Championship in 1999 with some dashing displays of 15-man rugby but 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.

Scotland's best results so far

Best Rugby Union World Cup placing so far: fourth in the second Rugby World Cup, RWC1991. On October 26, 1991 Scotland lost 6-9 to England in a semi-final at Murrayfield after the normally reliable Gavin Hastings missed an easy penalty almost in front of and a short distance from the posts. On October 30th Scotland lost the Third-place play-off to New Zealand in Cardiff, 13-6.

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.)

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, though he still has some way to go to catch Gavin Hastings.

Current national team players

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Chris Paterson celebrates 50 Scottish caps

Current Scottish national team players (2004) include:

Last 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 are 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. For the sake of morale it may be a good idea to play some easier sides occasionally rather than almost always aiming to topple teams higher than Scotland in the world rankings.

Williams has also been attempting to introduce a controversial "Fortress Scotland" policy, whereby only those currently playing in Scotland are eligible to play in the national team. Meanwhile the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) is under new management, Chief Executive Phil Anderton 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.

Famous past players

Some of the most famous former Scottish international players (The Flower of Scotland)

Since 1945

Before 1945

For more information see the SRU's list of Scotland's international players, 1871-2004 (

  • Scottish internationalists ( on Sporting Heroes
  • Irvine and others on video ( - vintage Scottish rugby (BBC)

See also the category of "Scottish rugby union footballers".

Scottish coaches

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

Recent national coaches have been foreigners. The present head coach is Australian Matt Williams. The forwards coach is Ulsterman Willie Anderson. He succeeded New Zealander and former All Black captain Todd Blackadder who is still playing for and coaching the Edinburgh Rugby professional team.

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.

Scottish professional rugby teams

There are currently three: Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Rugby, and The Borders. There has been talk of establishing a fourth team based in London, so far unrealised, and of bringing back the Caledonian region. They are of course the main feeder teams for the national team.

In the amateur days London Scottish provided many Scottish internationals from the London area. Now London Scottish is clawing its way back up the English divisions to the top flight after being demoted as part of the drive to professionalism in the 1990s.

Scotland's 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

Scotland's greatest XV ( on the SRU website

See also

External links

  • Scottish Rugby Union ( - the official site of Scottish Rugby
  • SRU Annual Report 2003-04 (
  • Scottish Rugby Strategic Review ( (Interim Update) 30 May 2004
  • Guide to Scottish Rugby ( (The Scotsman)
  • A song for Scotland (,,2090-1368590,00.html) - an article on the ongoing discussions about which song should represent Scotland before international rugby and soccer (football) games. (Sunday Times, November 21, 2004)

it:Nazionale di rugby scozzese


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