Rupees, rivalries and revelries: An exclusive audience with a (nearly) priceless trophy
When the short-lived Calcutta Football Club disbanded in 1877, I was all that was left. Not as I am today, of course. 270 silver rupees - that's how I started life. As I sat obliviously in the club's bank vault, the club members decided that I should be put to good use. Captain, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, Mr GA James Rothney, wrote to the Rugby Football Union and proposed that I could make a lasting contribution to the sport. What an honour!
I later realised that I was not intended to be a monetary contribution. I remember the day well. Are you joking?! You're melting me down?! It was scorching hot. It's painful even thinking about it. But from a pool of metallic sweat, I was reborn as a trophy to rival all other trophies, with cobras for handles and a miniature elephant perched on my head. Rothney suggested that I could be a challenge cup, rugby's equivalent of the FA Cup. The RFU weren't so keen on that idea so it was decided that I would be awarded to the winners of the annual rugby match between England and Scotland.
In 1878, I travelled from Calcutta to London aboard the P&O Steamer Thibet. I was looking forward to my first outing as a trophy - England v Scotland in 1879. As I watched that first match, I thought: This is a funny old game, isn't it? I didn't understand the rules back then, but that didn't stop me from trying to predict which team would claim me first. Alas, the match ended in a draw, which was somewhat disappointing for me. My big moment eventually came the following year, when I was awarded to England after a resounding win at Whalley Range in Manchester. The first time Scotland won me was at the same ground, two years later. I like travelling between England and Scotland. It's nice to have a change of scenery every so often.