From The Vaults

27 March 2021
27th March - A Red Letter Day for Rugby

On 27th March 1971, England and Scotland stepped out at Murrayfield for their second international test-match in the space of a week. The previous Saturday, both sides had completed their 5 Nations campaign at Twickenham, where Peter Brown's conversion had secured a 16-15 victory for Scotland. England under the captaincy of John Spencer, had gone into the match on the back of a victory in Dublin and home draw with France but a vintage Wales side had topped the Championship table as England and Scotland finished fourth and fifth respectively.

The second fixture, however, was a red-letter day for rugby playing nations everywhere. Precisely 100 hundred years earlier, Scotland had defeated England at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh in the first recognised international fixture of any of the football codes.

Scotland were unchanged. Brown was joined by his brother Gordon in the pack and a formidable front-row of Ian 'Mighty Mouse' McLauchlan, Quintin Dunlop and Sandy Carmichael. Duncan Paterson and Jock Turner constituted the midfield with Chris Rea and John Frame at centre and Billy Steele on the wing.

Spencer's England brought Nigel Starmer-Smith in at scrum half. Chris Wardlow partnered Spencer at centre with David Duckham on the wing and Bob Hiller at full back. David Powell, John Pullin and Fran Cotton made up the front row, supported by Peter Larter and debutant Chris Rawlstron, with Bob Taylor and Tony Neary in the back row.

Perhaps inspired by the exploits of their forebears, Scotland took the lead within thirteen seconds as Frame capitalised on an error by the England captain. A conversion by Arthur Brown was followed by a penalty for Peter Brown, to give Scotland an 8-0 lead. Dick Cowman pulled three points back for England with a dropped goal but Peter Brown scored another try to give Scotland an 11-3 half time lead.

In the second half Scotland cut loose. A second try for Frame was followed by tries for Rea and Steele with only a Hiller penalty working the scoreboard for England. At the final whistle Scotland had secured an emphatic 26-6 victory.

50 years later, Scotland were able to complete a hat-trick of red-letter day victories by defeating England 11-6 at Twickenham in the match designated to celebrate 150 years of international rugby.

In the run up to this match Simon Hannah, son of Ronald Hannah, and Jonathan Wright, son of Ian Wright, were able to arrange a remarkable reunion. Ronald Hannah and Ian Wright were both involved in the match-day squads in that historic fixture in 1971 and both had lovingly kept their jerseys as keepsakes.

Their sons, Simon and Jonathan, took the opportunity to reunite the two jerseys in the run up to the 2021 fixture and fundraise for the Doddie Weir Foundation. With the generous support of the two families and EDF Energy, £4,000 was raised for the foundation, which supports those with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Now, both jerseys a ticket, dinner invitation and programme from the 1971 match will be going on display at the World Rugby Museum. Unique in style, the two jerseys celebrate the enduring friendship that exists between the two oldest rugby playing nations with a logo that features the thistle and rose intertwined.

If you would like to learn more about the Doddie Weir Foundation, please visit their website -