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Highland Rugby Club welcome Calcutta Cup to Canal Park in Inverness to help launch centenary year celebrations


By Alasdair Fraser

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One of world rugby’s most famous and coveted trophies was paraded at Highland Rugby Club on Saturday as the Canal Park outfit kicked off centenary year celebrations.

The Calcutta Cup, originally dating from 1878, is steeped in colourful history and competed for every year by Scotland and England as the oldest of six Six Nations’ prizes.

In a proud chapter in club history, Highland greats Nairn MacEwan and John Frame both starred in the Five Nations Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham on March 20, 1971.

Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..Brain Bell Director of Rugby and Graham findlater President...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..Brain Bell Director of Rugby and Graham findlater President...Picture: Callum Mackay..

They emerged victorious – a first beating of the Auld Enemy in 33 years – before completing a famous Twickenham double a week later in a centenary match.

Dave Carson, Highland’s head coach, said: “It is just wonderful to be able to have the Calcutta Cup on display at the outset of our centenary year.

“We’re very proud to have had two such great players of the past represent the Highlands in the Scotland-England fixture.

“It is just a shame that Covid restrictions at the club have curtailed plans for the launch of the centenary year a little bit, but it is an absolute an honour to have had that very special trophy with us on Saturday.”

Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..Donald Douglas who played for highland in the 70's...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..Donald Douglas who played for highland in the 70's...Picture: Callum Mackay..

Mr MacEwan became a regular for his country in the early 1970s, later coaching the national side and Italian club Rovigo. He died in May, 2018. Mr Frame, who also played for Gala, is also fondly remembered for his Scotland endeavours.

High jinks by victorious Scotland players in 1988 left the original Calcutta Cup damaged and it remains in a fragile condition, meaning that the rugby authorities rarely allow it to be transported to events such as Highland’s.

The beautifully-crafted replica seen every year raised above the winners' heads is, in itself, a masterpiece and will be fought for again between the two nations on February 5.

Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..First team players Kevin Brown and Stephen Murray...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Calcutta Cup at Highland Rugby Club..First team players Kevin Brown and Stephen Murray...Picture: Callum Mackay..

The original was manufactured after the Calcutta (Rugby) Football Club in India was disbanded in 1878.

Members had decided to keep the memory of the club alive by having the remaining 270 silver rupees from their bank account melted down into a trophy.

The Indian workmanship features finely-engraved detail such as three king cobras forming the handles and an elephant on the domed lid.

It is kept safe at Twickenham’s Museum of Rugby.


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