From The Vaults

02 February 2024
Scotland v Wales, 1924

One hundred years ago, the 1924 Five Nations Championship began badly for Scotland when they travelled to Paris to play France on New Year's Day. The match took place uniquely at Stade Pershing in the Bois de Vincennes, a sports stadium required for this match following the flooding of the River Seine which made French rugby's usual venue Stade Colombes unplayable.

Both sides picked five new caps and were seen as evenly matched but with Scotland having the heavier pack. Although Scotland led 10-6 with twenty-five minutes to go, the French scored two further tries to add to their two first half tries to emerge as winners by 12 points to 10. The Scots returned home somewhat chastened and had to wait a month for their next match with the arrival of Wales to play at Inverleith on February 2nd.

Wales meanwhile had also begun the championship unimpressively at the St Helen's ground in Swansea on January 19th. The selectors rashly selected nine new caps to face a vastly more experienced England team under the captaincy for the first time of the great forward Wavell Wakefield. England proved to be much the stronger team, albeit with five new caps but only one in the forwards, and they ran in five tries on their way to a 17-9 victory. It was the first staging post for England on their route to a second consecutive Grand Slam.

Wales reacted to their defeat by England by picking four more new caps, all in the back line. The selectors surprisingly retained six of the pack badly beaten by England but gave the captaincy to the experienced Newport forward Jack Whitfield in his 11th international. Scotland were favourites but few among the 25,000 spectators could have imagined the rout that was to come.

This was the largest defeat ever suffered by a Welsh team against Scotland and it was a defeat that seared itself into the Welsh psyche. It led to a famous remark made by one of the Welsh selectors, TD Schofield of Bridgend, when the team went to view the Forth Bridge the day after the match:

"Take a good look at it, boys, it's the last time any of you will see it at the expense of the Welsh Union."

The rest of the championship remained mixed both in terms of results and team stability for both sides. Scotland beat Ireland at Inverleith by 13-8 but were then soundly beaten by England 19-0 at Twickenham in their final match. Wales lost to Ireland 13-10 at Cardiff Arms Park with five more new caps in their forwards, but managed to salvage something from their season by beating France 10-6 at the Stade Colombes at the end of March.

One hundred years later, a remarkable statistic remains from the 1924 championship. England picked seven new caps during the season, Scotland picked ten, Ireland picked seven, France picked fourteen but the Welsh selectors outdid their rivals in picking twenty three new caps!


  • Fields of Praise - David Smith & Gareth Williams (University of Wales Press 1981)
  • History of Welsh International Rugby - John Billot (Provincial Printing & Publishing Co, Cardiff 1999)
  • The Scottish Rugby Union - AMC Thorburn (SRU 1985)
  • Scottish Rugby Game by Game - Kenneth R Bogle (Luath Press Limited 2013)
  • Scrapbooks & match spreadsheets in the World Rugby Museum, Twickenham (Richard Steele)

About the Author

A professional musician and arts administrator, Richard Steele has been on the committee of the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham since 2005 and is the co-author of the RFU's 150th anniversary book England Rugby 150 Years.