From The Vaults

08 February 2021
RFU150 - The Scottish Rugby Union

As the Rugby Football Union celebrates its 150th year, we examine six influential governing bodies and their roles in the history and development of Rugby Union since 1871.

Part 2- The Scottish Rugby Union

JW Arthur's 1871 Scotland Cap

It was the captains of five Scottish sides who, in 1870, issued the challenge that led to the world's first recognised international football contest. Scotland hosted and won the match at Raeburn Place in 1871, demonstrating how firmly established the Rugby School code was north of the border.

Initially called the Scottish Football Union, the organisation was established in 1873 as a national governing body, subsidiary to the Rugby Football Union which, at the time, was understood to be a multi-national affair. One of the SFU's first orders of business was to register as a member of the RFU.

A decade later, however, it was the SFU that opposed the RFU most vociferously after a disputed try in the 1884 meeting between England and Scotland. The failure to resolve the issue cast England into international exile and eventually led to the formation of the International Board, now World Rugby, who would replace the RFU as the prime legislator for the sport.

In the aftermath of the 1895 split, the SFU were one of the staunchest defenders of amateurism. The 1908 Anglo-Welsh side, now counted amongst the prototype British & Irish Lions, were only known thus because the SFU and IRFU objected to the payment of expenses and banned their players from participation.

The SFU became he Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) in 1924 and opened Murrayfield Stadium in 1925. In the stadium's first international match, Scotland defeated England and later went on to claim a Grand Slam of victories for the first time.

When the SRU celebrated its Centenary in 1973 it hosted an International Seven-a-side tournament. Rugby Sevens originated in the Scottish Border town of Melrose in 1883.

See also Part 1- The Rugby Football Union

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