The history behind the Calcutta Cup and why England and Scotland compete for it

England and Scotland renew their fierce rivalry at Twickenham this weekend in their opening match of this year’s Six Nations.

Whilst both teams will be looking to secure the valuable points in their respective Six Nations title bids, the winning side will also receive the Calcutta Cup at the end of the game.

But what exactly is the Calcutta Cup and why do England and Scotland compete for the trophy?

Let’s take a look at the history behind the prize.

Why do England and Scotland play for the Calcutta Cup?

It is all started on Christmas Day in 1872 when 20 Englishman and 20 Scotsman played a game of rugby union in Calcutta, British India.

Following the match, and in keeping with the growing popularity of sport in British India, the Calcutta Rugby Football Club was founded in January of the following year.

The club was established by expats, former students of Rugby School and soldiers from the Royal East Kent Regiment, and the team officially joined the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 1874.

However, by 1878, the club’s declining contingent decided to withdraw their club funds, which totaled 270 Indian rupees.

The coins were melted down to form a trophy which was presented to the RFU as the ‘best means of doing some lasting good for the cause of Rugby Football.’

The Calcutta Club initially wanted the trophy to serve as the rugby version of the FA Cup, but the RFU refused to make the Calcutta Cup a knock-out competition between English sides.

Instead, the RFU elected to play a match between England and Scotland every year, with the winning team awarded the trophy.

The original trophy was handmade by Indian craftsman, although replica versions have since been made by modern technology.

The handles are designed in the shape of king cobras, whilst an elephant is perched on top of the lid.

How many times have England and Scotland won the Calcutta Cup?

The first Calcutta Cup game was held in Edinburgh in March 1879, ending in a draw.

A year later, England beat Scotland in Manchester to become the first side to hold the Calcutta Cup.

Since its formation, 129 editions of the Calcutta Cup have taken place – one every year expect for during the two World Wars.

England have won the trophy 71 times compared to Scotland’s tally of 42, whilst the fixture has finished as a draw on 16 occasions.

Scotland are the current holders having won the trophy at Murrayfield in last year’s Six Nations clash.

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