As we have seen, the history of rugby is a
complicated story steeped in traditions, some of which live on as annual games
played in various parts of
. Internal conflicts between the members of the founding associations lead to
rifts that continue to divide codes, clubs and supporters alike...
Despite the split between the various
forms of football between 1860 and 1900, there are strong links between early
rugby at an international level and another very English sport: cricket.
Indeed, the formation of Aussie Rules Football came about to give the Australian
cricketers a winter sport to play.
The first British rugby tour was
arranged at the request of the touring English Cricket team on their return from
in 1877. Three team members, Shaw,
and Stoddard had such a good time while on tour that they thought that their
fellow rugby players should also take the opportunity to travel.
They approached the RFU who allowed the tour to proceed provided that the
all-important amateur status was maintained.
The first of these rugby tours began on 08 March 1888 when a party of mainly
English players plus a few Scots and a lone Manxman set off for a nine month
. Some 54 games were played, some under Aussie Rules and there were 2 losses,
both at the hands of
It is generally accepted that the first team consisting of representatives from
all of the home nations was the touring side of 1910 to
. In that year, 3 games were played with the Springboks winning 2-1.
It was to take another 14 years before the representative team from
took on the identity of the Lions when, again on their tour of
, the name was born from the logo worn on the team tie. Once more,
claimed the series winning 3 out of 4 games, the remaining match ending in a
Lions Tours are now a well established event in the rugby calendar, taking place
every four years to
It seems odd that not more people
question why the oldest international fixture in the world, between
, is linked to of all places,
The association goes back to the early years when Rugby Rules football was being
spread throughout much of the world by travelling sportsmen, often cricketers,
public school connections and the military.
The Calcutta Rugby Club was set up in 1872 but did not really gain a foothold;
rugby is far too physical to play in the stifling heat of
and, besides, there was competition from other sport like polo and cricket; far
more leisurely and civilised.
The members realised this and the Club was wound up after only five years, but
on finalising the books, the coffers were found to be quite healthy; the
Calcutta Rugby Club was sitting on the princely sum of around £60 - all in
The decision was made to have a trophy of some sort produced from these silver
rupees and to offer the trophy to the RFU with the condition that it should be
played for in a rugby match. The RFU agreed and the first Calcutta Cup match was
played between England and Scotland in 1879; the game that year ended in a draw
1 goal to 1 drop goal - see the previous article on points scoring if this does
not make any sense.
The first winner of the trophy was
the following year, 1880, which saw
triumph by 2 goals and 3 tries to 1 goal.