History & Heritage

OVER 145 YEARS OF HISTORY, HERITAGE & COMMUNITY

From the world’s original inter-city derby match in 1872, to the modern era of professionalism, Edinburgh has always been a rugby city.

Over the years, we have hosted some of the world’s finest touring sides and produced players that have gone on to become household names, synonymous with the game of rugby the world over.

BURNBANK BEGINNINGS

Kicking off as a trial for the Scotland national team, Edinburgh’s first game was held on Saturday 23 November 1872.

The team wore dark blue jerseys, white trousers and brown stockings, and was captained by rugby pioneer, Francis Moncrieff. The side was drawn from the then fledgling clubs around the city at the time, including Edinburgh Academicals, Edinburgh University, Royal High School FP and Edinburgh Wanderers.

This first non-international involving representative teams was duly won by a drop goal to nil, the score coming from Accies man Tom Marshall, to give Edinburgh victory.

Thirty years later, the ‘intercity’ was still popular as both a talent finder and a crowd draw.

In December 1903, the 35th meeting - won 25-0 by Edinburgh, reportedly due to the ‘mastery of the forwards’. Rivalries were put aside, however, on 14 October 1935 when, for the first time, a joint Edinburgh and Glasgow side faced a touring team.

The visitors, New Zealand, narrowly won 9-8 with the new combination reportedly unlucky to lose by giving away penalties.

Some 25 years later another combined team, playing in white, took on the touring South Africans. Just three weeks later, on 3 December 1960, any joint camaraderie was forgotten, however, as Edinburgh faced Glasgow once again!

As Edinburgh increased their district matches, it was reported at the 1962 AGM that the games, ‘have proved to be attractive fixtures and the Edinburgh District have become almost like a good club side, in so far as they have had the nucleus of the same team throughout the season’.

Edinburgh’s fixtures regularly extended beyond the central belt with matches against teams representing the Midlands and the South of Scotland together with a long-standing annual encounter with Northumberland. Expenditure for the latter annual ‘tour’ in 1948 came to a princely £25.

Over the years Edinburgh’s home games have been played in various locations throughout the city - from Goldenacre and Myreside to Raeburn Place and Jock’s Lodge, as well as Murrayfield and Meadowbank, the latter able – according to excited reports – to host a floodlit Edinburgh v Anglo Scots game in 1971.

Edinburgh’s list of playing legends is immense. En route to Scotland and the British and Irish Lions, Andy Irvine first played for Edinburgh against the South in December 1970.

“It was always regarded as a great honour and privilege to play for your district and the inter-district championship was fiercely contested,” Irvine later recalled.

The late, great Bruce Hay was an Edinburgh stalwart during the 1970s and 80s, captaining the side and progressing onto play for Scotland, the Barbarians and the British and Irish Lions.

A team including Hay took on Fiji in their first-ever visit to Scotland, at Myreside on 15 September 1982.

Edinburgh’s international fixtures also included Romania (on their first ever visit to Scotland in September 1981), frequent touring parties from New Zealand and Australia, and the likes of Japan in 1986 and Western Samoa in 1995. The city also played host to other home union districts such as Kent (at Inverleith in 1986) and Leinster (at Meggetland in 1990)

In 1996, Edinburgh entered the professional era as Edinburgh Rugby - one of four Scottish district sides - to compete in the European Cup (now Heineken Champions Cup).

First contracted by Scottish Rugby in September of that year, the side started with semi-pro players before moving on to become a fully professional squad of 25 players.

Playing in navy and the new introduction of red, matches included a fixture at Goldenacre in November 1997 against Tonga.

After two seasons, Edinburgh merged with the Border Reivers to form Edinburgh Reivers. In 1998/99 the side played in the European Cup, Tri-Series and WRU Challenge Trophy. For the 1999/00 and 2000/01 seasons, Scottish Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union joined forces to create the Welsh-Scottish League.

Further change was imminent, and in 2001 the unions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales created a new competition, the Celtic League (now Guinness PRO14).

In that inaugural season the first ever try hat-trick in the league was scored by Edinburgh’s Roland Reid, away to Pontypridd on 31 August 2001.

Following the reduction of Scotland's professional structure to two sides, the club reverted to its earlier name of Edinburgh Rugby. The team found some success, reaching the inaugural Celtic Cup final on 20 December 2003, though were beaten by Ulster (27-12).

In more modern times, Edinburgh’s greatest memories have so far been enjoyed on the European stage. In 2011/12, the club reached the semi-final of the Heineken Cup and a tremendous European run in 2014/15 resulted in the club reaching the European Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham Stoop, where they lost out to Gloucester.

Richard Cockerill was appointed as Head Coach to start the 2017/18 season and the former England and Leicester hooker instantly set about improving the club’s fortunes.

Edinburgh reached the Final Series of the newly formed Guinness PRO14, also securing their return to the Heineken Champions Cup for the 2018/19 campaign.

Key Facts & Trivia

  • Founded: 1872
  • Home Stadium: BT Murrayfield
  • Highest Finish: 2nd Place (2008/09)
  • Highest Attendance: 37,881 (Toulouse, Heineken Cup QF, 2012)
  • Most Caps: Allan Jacobsen (286)
  • Top Scorer: Chris Paterson (783)
  • Most Tries: Tim Visser (60)
  • Total International Players: 351
  • Notable Internationalists: Chris Paterson, Duncan Hodge, Mike Blair, Ross Ford, Greig Laidlaw
  • Number of British & Irish Lions: 36
  • Notable Lions: Andy Irvine, Gavin Hastings, Doddie Weir, Findlay Calder, Simon Taylor

RESULTS AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TOURING TEAMS:

November 24, 1962Edinburgh 22-3 CanadaMurrayfield
November 19, 1975Edinburgh 10-19 AustraliaMyreside
October 31, 1979Edinburgh 4-16 New ZealandMyreside
September 19, 1981Edinburgh 13-18 RomaniaMyreside
September 15, 1982Edinburgh 47-12 FijiMyreside
October 26, 1983Edinburgh 6-22 New ZealandMyreside
September 23, 1986Edinburgh 26-14 JapanMyreside
September 23, 1987Edinburgh 9-22 FranceGoldenacre
November 9, 1988Edinburgh 19-25 AustraliaMyreside
November 8, 1995Edinburgh 22-35 Western SamoaInverleith
August 24, 2007Edinburgh 14-26 TongaMyreside

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to our newsletter today to receive the latest updates from the club.

sign up