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Scotland national rugby union team

Union Scottish Rugby Union
Emblem(s) the Thistle
Ground(s) Murrayfield Stadium
Coach(es) Vern Cotter
Captain(s) Greig Laidlaw
Most caps Chris Paterson (109)
Top scorer Chris Paterson (809)
Most tries Ian Smith, Tony Stanger (24)
First international
(also the world's first)
 Scotland 1 – 0 England 
(27 March 1871)
Largest win
 Scotland 100 – 8 Japan 
(13 November 2004)
Largest defeat
 Scotland 10 – 68 South Africa 
(6 December 1997)
World Cup
Appearances 8/8 (First in 1987)
Best result 4th, 1991

The Scotland national rugby union team represents Scotland in international rugby union. Rugby union in Scotland is administered by the Scottish Rugby Union. The team takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship and participates in the Rugby World Cup, which takes place every four years. As of 12 October 2015, Scotland are ninth in the World Rugby Rankings.[1]

The Scottish rugby team dates back to 1871, where they beat England in the first international rugby union match at Raeburn Place. Scotland competed in the Five Nations from the inaugural tournament in 1883, winning it 14 times outright—including the last ever Five Nations in 1999—and sharing it another 8. In 2000 the competition accepted a sixth competitor, Italy, thus forming the Six Nations. Since this change, Scotland have yet to win the competition. The Rugby World Cup was introduced in 1987 and Scotland have competed in all eight competitions, the most recent being in 2015 where they were knocked out by Australia at the quarter-final stage in controversial circumstances. Their best finish came in 1991, where they lost to the All Blacks in the third place play-off.

Scotland have a strong rivalry with the English national team. They both annually compete for the Calcutta Cup. Each year, this fixture is played out as part of the Six Nations, and Scotland last won it in 2008.


  • History 1
    • 1871–1924 1.1
      • The Scots issue a challenge 1.1.1
      • The Calcutta Cup 1.1.2
      • Origins of the Nations Championship 1.1.3
      • Home ground 1.1.4
    • 1925–45 1.2
    • 1946–87 1.3
    • 1987–2000 1.4
    • 2000–08 1.5
    • 2009–present 1.6
  • Thistle and the anthem 2
  • Strip 3
    • Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors 3.1
  • Record 4
    • Six Nations 4.1
    • World Cup 4.2
    • Overall 4.3
  • Players 5
    • Current squad 5.1
    • Notable players 5.2
  • Coaches 6
  • See also 7
    • Men's National teams 7.1
      • Senior 7.1.1
      • Development 7.1.2
      • Age Grades 7.1.3
    • Women's National teams 7.2
      • Senior 7.2.1
  • References 8
  • External links 9



The Scots issue a challenge

Scotland's first national team, 1871, for the 1st international, vs. England in Edinburgh.

In December 1870 a group of Scots players issued a letter of challenge in The Scotsman and in Bell's Life in London, to play an England XX at rugby rules. The English could hardly ignore such a challenge and this led to the first-ever rugby international match being played at Academical Cricket Club's ground at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, on Monday 27 March 1871. In front of around 4000 spectators, the Scots won the encounter by a try (made by Angus Buchanan) and a goal (made by William Cross) to a solitary try scored by England (a points scoring system had not then been devised so only the goal counted towards the 1–0 score). England later got revenge by winning the return match at the Kennington Oval, London in the following year.[2][3][4]

The Calcutta Cup

The Calcutta Cup was donated to the Rugby Football Union in 1878 by the members of the short-lived Calcutta Rugby Club. The members had decided to disband: the cup was crafted from melted-down silver rupees which became available when the Club's funds were withdrawn from the bank. The Cup is unique in that it is competed for annually only by England and Scotland. The first Calcutta Cup match was played in 1879 and, since that time, over 100 matches have taken place.[5]

Origins of the Nations Championship

In 1882 the Home Nations Championship, the fore-runner of the modern Six Nations Championship was founded with Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland taking part.[6] The Scots enjoyed occasional success in the early years, winning their first Triple Crown in 1891 and repeating the feat again in 1895,[6][7] and vying with Wales for dominance in the first decade of the 20th century.[6] Further Triple Crowns wins for Scotland followed in 1901, 1903 and 1907.[7] However, Scotland's triumph in 1907 would be the last for eighteen years as the First World War (1914–18) and England's dominance afterwards would deny them glory.[6]

Home ground

In 1897 land was purchased, by the SFU, at Inverleith, Edinburgh. Thus the SFU became the first of the Home Unions to own its own ground. The first visitors were Ireland, on 18 February 1899 (Scotland 3 Ireland 9). International rugby was played at Inverleith until 1925. The SFU bought some land and built the first Murrayfield Stadium which was opened on 21 March 1925.[7]


In 1925 Scotland already had victories over France at Inverleith (25–4), Wales in Swansea (24–14) and Ireland in Dublin (14–8). England, the Grand Slam champions of the two previous seasons were the first visitors to Murrayfield. 70,000 spectators saw the lead change hands three times before Scotland secured a 14–11 victory which gave them their first-ever Five Nations Grand Slam.[8]

In 1926, Scotland became the first Home nation side to defeat England at Twickenham after England had won the Grand Slam five times in eight seasons.[9][6]

The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought rugby union in Scotland to a halt. The SRU cancelled all arranged trial and international matches and encouraged the member clubs to carry on as best they could. Some clubs closed down, others amalgamated and carried on playing other local clubs and, sometimes, teams from the armed forces stationed in their various areas.[7]


Internationals resumed in the 1946–47 season, although these were not formally recognised and no caps were awarded to participating players.[7] In January 1946, Scotland played and defeated a strong New Zealand Armed Forces team by 11–6.[10][11] Scotland resumed full international matches in February 1947, losing 22–8 to Wales at Murrayfield.[7]

The period after World War Two was not a successful one for Scotland. In 1951, the touring Springboks massacred Scotland 44–0 scoring nine tries, a then record defeat.[12] Scotland suffered 17 successive defeats between February 1951 and February 1955, scored only 54 points in these 17 games: 11 tries, six conversions, and four penalties.[13]

The teams from 1955–63 were an improvement. There were no wins over England, but three of the games were drawn. Occasional wins were recorded against Wales, Ireland and France.[14] 1964 was a good year for Scotland. New Zealand were held to a 0–0 draw, the last international match in which no points were scored.[15] The Calcutta Cup was won 15–6, the first time since 1950[16] and they shared the Five Nations title in 1964 with Wales.[17]

In 1971 the SRU appointed Bill Dickinson as their head coach, after years of avoidance, as it was their belief that rugby should remain an amateur sport. He was officially designated as an "adviser to the captain".[18]

Scotland were the first of the Home Unions to run a truly nationwide club league. This was introduced in 1973 and still flourishes today with several of the country's original clubs still very much in evidence, such as Heriots, West of Scotland, Watsonians and the famous 'border' clubs such as Gala, Hawick, Jed-Forest, Kelso and Melrose. However the advent of professionalism saw Scotland's District championship abandoned and two 'Super Districts' formed, which have resulted in the top players generally being unavailable for their clubs. These teams play in international club competitions such as the Heineken Cup and the Pro12.

On 1 March 1975, around 104,000 spectators watched Scotland defeat Wales 12–10 in a Five Nations match at Murrayfield. The attendance at the time was a World Record for a Rugby Union match, and remains the record attendance at Murrayfield.[19][20] That win was part of a run of nine successive wins at Murrayfield during the 1970s for the national side, but they were unable to transfer that form outwith Scotland, only managing two away wins during the decade.[21]

In 1977 Nairn McEwan succeeded Bill Dickinson as national coach.[22] However, he was only able to win one international in his three years in charge.[22] Nevertheless, rugby in Scotland was clearly developing.[23] The establishment of the national leagues in 1973-74 was beginning to bear fruit; the standard of club and district rugby was higher than ever and players were more accustomed to experiencing pressure in matches where the result really mattered.[23] Fewer players were being selected from English clubs to represent Scotland as the domestic game was producing an adequate number of players of genuine international class for the first time since the First World War.[23]

Jim Telfer became national coach in 1980,[24] inheriting a squad of genuine potential.[23] In March 1982 Scotland won away in Wales for the first time in 20 years.[25] Scotland toured Australia in July 1982 and won the first test, Scotland's first away victory against any of the big three Southern Hemisphere sides.[26][27] After this, the 1983 season was a disappointment; losing their first three Five Nations matches.[28] However, the tournament ended on a high when Scotland recorded only their second victory over England at Twickenham since 1938.[24] Scotland then went on to draw with the All Blacks 25–25 in the late autumn.[28]

Scotland recovered their form in 1984 and achieved their second Grand Slam, and their first since 1925, under the captaincy of Jim Aitken.[24] The team benefited from consistent selection - 12 players took part in all four Five Nations matches,[23] and of the 20 players used in total throughout only two played for clubs outwith Scotland.[23] Jim Telfer stood down after the Grand Slam to concentrate on his professional career as a school master. He was succeeded by his assistant, the former Hawick fly-half, Colin Telfer (not a relative).[23][29] He lasted just over a year, enduring a whitewash in the 1985 Five Nations, before resigning to concentrate on his business.[30] Derrick Grant was then appointed head coach.[30]

In January 1986, a trial match between "Blues" (players expected to feature for Scotland) and "Reds" (emerging players with a possible international future) resulted in a shock 41–10 win for the "Reds".[31] The "Reds" team included Gavin and Scott Hastings, Finlay Calder and David Sole, all of whom who would debut for Scotland in the Five Nations that year and feature prominently for side in the years that followed.[32] Scotland went on to share the 1986 Five Nations championship with France, each side winning three out of their four games.[33] The series also saw Scotland thrash England 33–6 at Murrayfield; Scotland's record win over the English, at the time one point short of Scotland's best score in any rugby union international and England's heaviest defeat in over a century.[34]


Scotland went to the first World Cup, played in New Zealand and Australia in the summer of 1987. John Rutherford, the team's general and controlling influence, had injured his knee on an unauthorised tour of Bermuda. He broke down after less than a quarter of an hour of the first World Cup match against France and never played for Scotland again. Scotland had been in the lead but the match finished level. Scotland lost to New Zealand in the quarter-final. On 27 June 1988, Ian McGeechan was appointed as head coach to succeed Derrick Grant who had retired after the end of the 1988 Five Nations series.[35]

Their greatest year in the modern era was 1990, when their season came down to one game, a Grand Slam decider at Murrayfield against the "auld enemy", England. Both sides had won all their Five Nations fixtures, and England were overwhelming favourites despite being the away side. Scotland under the captaincy of prop David Sole went on to win 13–7,[36] and with it their third Grand Slam.[37] The match against England in 1990 was also only the second time that Flower of Scotland was played at Murrayfield, having become Scotland's pre-match national anthem that year.[38]

The second World Cup took place in 1991 with matches shared between the Five Nations. Scotland won their pool, though the game against Ireland was close, and then beat Western Samoa in the quarter-final. They lost to England in the semi-final held at Murrayfield to a Rob Andrew drop goal. In the third place play-off they were beaten by New Zealand.[39]

Scotland went through 1994 without a single win,[40] but bounced back in 1995 to win their first three Five Nations matches.[41] This run of wins included a 23–21 win away against France, courtesy of a last minute try and conversion by Gavin Hastings.[40] This was Scotland's first win in Paris since 1969.[40][41] The last Five Nations match was another Grand Slam decider against England, however this time the English defeated the Scots 24–12, largely due to the kicking prowess of Rob Andrew.[41]

The third World Cup, held in South Africa, came in 1995. Pool play saw a narrow defeat by France, thanks to an injury-time try, and Scotland finished second in the pool. They were eliminated in the quarter-final against New Zealand.[42]

Scotland won the last-ever Five Nations Championship in 1999 with a last minute win by Wales over England.[43] But the 1999 World Cup ended the usual way, with a quarter-final defeat by New Zealand.[44]


Scotland endured a torrid Six Nations in 2000, losing their first four straight games.[45] Nevertheless, at the last hurdle, they pulled off a magnificent 19–13 win under captain Andy Nicol over England at Murrayfield.[46]

Scotland v Ireland 2007

Australian coach Matt Williams became the first foreigner to coach Scotland in 2003.[47] However his tenure was both controversial and unsuccessful, marred by a string of poor results and fall-outs with coaches and players.[47][48][49] In 2004 Williams attempted to introduce a controversial "Fortress Scotland" policy, whereby only those currently playing in Scotland were eligible to play in the national team.[50] Meanwhile, the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) came under new management, chief executive Phil Anderton (known as 'Firework Phil' for his pre-match entertainment spectacles) was leading the way back to financial solvency and implementing major reforms to reverse the decline of the game in Scotland, but he resigned in January 2005 after his boss David Mackay was forced to resign by the SRU's general committee.[51][52] By April 2005, Scotland had won only three out of seventeen matches under Williams.[47] Following a review by the SRU and public criticism from several of his players,[49] Williams was finally sacked on 25 April 2005.[53]

Frank Hadden, the head coach of Edinburgh Gunners, was appointed interim coach for the 2005 summer internationals against the Barbarians and Romania,[54] winning both.[55] On 15 September 2005, he was appointed national coach of the Scotland team.[55]

In the first match of the 2006 Six Nations campaign, against France, Scotland won 20–16,[56] and this was the first time since 1999 that they had beaten France.[57] Scotland also beat England 18–12 at home at Murrayfield to reclaim the Calcutta Cup.[58] In the 2006 Autumn internationals Scotland won two of three fixtures. They convincingly beat Romania[59] and put up a solid first half performance against the Pacific Islanders.[60] In the final match against Australia, Scotland failed to impress, with Australia winning 44–15.[61]

11 November 2006 Scotland 44–6 Romania

In 2007, Scotland became the first Six Nations team to lose at home to Italy, 17–37.[62] This was Italy's biggest ever victory over Scotland, home or away. Later that year, the side travelled to France for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They made their way through their group and reached the quarter finals, where they were knocked out by Argentina.[63]

Scotland opened their 2008 Six Nations campaign losing 27–6 to France at home.[64] Pressure on Frank Hadden started to intensify after Scotland lost to Wales[65] and then to Ireland.[66] They then defeated England in the Calcutta Cup with a 15–9 victory[67] before succumbing to Italy, avoiding the wooden spoon only on scoring difference.[68] They then toured Argentina in the summer to play two tests against Argentina. They lost the first test 21–15, but won the second 26–14.[69]


In a dismal 2009 Six Nations campaign, Scotland won just one match for a second consecutive year (against Italy) and thus, on 2 April 2009 Frank Hadden resigned as head coach of the national side.[70] On 4 June 2009, ex-England, Edinburgh and Bath coach Andy Robinson was named head coach in time for the 2009 Autumn Internationals.[71] Scotland's form picked up with a 23–10 victory over Fiji[72] and a memorable 9–8 win against Australia (the first win over the Wallabies for 27 years) at Murrayfield.[73]

In the 2010 Six Nations Scotland lost against France, Wales and Italy before drawing with England. Against Ireland, in the final rugby match at Croke Park, Scotland gained their only win of the tournament 23–20 with a last-minute penalty by Dan Parks, denying the Irish the Triple Crown and assuring they themselves would avoid the wooden spoon.[74] That summer, Scotland toured Argentina and recorded their first ever away series victory, beating the Pumas in both tests, 24–16 and 13–9.[75] In the Autumn Internationals of 2010, Scotland lost heavily against New Zealand before recording victories against South Africa, 21–17, and Samoa, 19–16.[76]

Scotland had a poor showing in the

  • Scotland Rugby Team – the official site of the Scotland national team
  • History of Scottish Rugby on the SRU website
  • Massie, Allan (28 January 2003). "The Battling Years". The Scotsman. 
  • Massie, Allan (29 January 2003). "The age of Telfer". The Scotsman. 
  • Favourites find Scotland grit hard to swallow: Scotland 18 England 12, The Times, 27 February 2006
  • Scottish Rugby Union – the official site of Scottish Rugby
  • A song for Scotland – an article on the ongoing discussions about which song should represent Scotland before international rugby and football games. (Sunday Times, 21 November 2004)

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Women's National teams

Age Grades



Men's National teams

See also

The current Scottish coaching set up is:

Scottish Rugby Coaches
Name Tenure Tests Won Drew Lost Win %
Bill Dickinson 1971–77 27 14 0 13 52
Nairn McEwan 1977–80 14 1 2 11 7
Jim Telfer 1980–84 27 13 2 12 52
Colin Telfer 1984–85 6 0 0 6 0
Derrick Grant 1985–88 18 9 1 8 50
Ian McGeechan 1988–93 33 19 1 13 58
Jim Telfer 1994–99 53 21 2 30 40
Ian McGeechan 2000–03 43 18 1 24 42
Matt Williams 2003–05 17 3 0 14 18
Frank Hadden 2005–09 41 16 0 25 39
Andy Robinson 2009–12 35 15 1 19 43
Scott Johnson (interim) 2012–14 16 5 0 11 31
Vern Cotter 2014 – 18 9 0 9 50

Robinson took the reins in 2009 after Frank Hadden stepped down. Robinson was no stranger to Scottish rugby as, like his predecessor Hadden, had been the head coach of Edinburgh Rugby and joint coach of Scotland A before being promoted head coach of the national side. Scott Johnson was Robinson's assistant coach when Robinson stood down in 2013, which ended in the result of Johnson being announced as Interim Head Coach for Scotland in 2013, taking the team through the 2013 Six Nations Championship and the 2013 South African Quadrangular Tournament.[116] Vern Cotter was announced as Scottish Head coach but would not take up on the role until June 2014 as he 1 year left on his contract with Clermont Auvergne. This meant that Scott Johnson would remain as Interim Coach until the end of that year's Six Nations Championship.[89]

Before 1971, there was no appointed coach of the Scotland team, the role being assumed by the captain. In 1971, the SRU appointed the first coach as "adviser to the captain". He was Bill Dickinson, a lecturer at Jordanhill College, and his contribution to Scottish rugby in the 1970s was immense.[18] Nairn McEwan took the reins in 1977 for three years[22] before the team was led by Jim Telfer in 1980.[24] Colin Telfer took over for a year before being succeeded by Derrick Grant in the autumn of 1985.[23][30] From 1988 onwards, Scotland was coached by either Jim Telfer or Ian McGeechan until 2003 when the Australian Matt Williams was appointed, becoming the first non Scot to coach the national side.[47] Scotland have appointed a further three non-Scottish coaches to lead the national side, the others being Scott Johnson, an Australian, Andy Robinson, an Englishman, and the current incumbent, Vern Cotter from New Zealand.


Ian McGeechan,[112] Bill Maclagan,[112] David Bedell-Sivright,[113] Jim Greenwood[114] and Gavin Hastings[115] are members of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.[112]

Four former Scotland players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame:

Notable players

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Brown, FraserFraser Brown Hooker (1989-06-20) 20 June 1989 15 Glasgow Warriors
Bryce, KevinKevin Bryce Hooker (1988-09-07)7 September 1988 (aged 27) 3 Glasgow Warriors
Ford, RossRoss Ford Hooker (1984-04-23) 23 April 1984 94 Edinburgh
Dickinson, AlasdairAlasdair Dickinson Prop (1983-09-11) 11 September 1983 52 Edinburgh
Grant, RyanRyan Grant Prop (1985-10-08) 8 October 1985 25 Glasgow Warriors
Nel, WPWP Nel Prop (1986-04-30) 30 April 1986 8 Edinburgh
Reid, GordonGordon Reid Prop (1987-03-04) 4 March 1987 15 Glasgow Warriors
Welsh, JonJon Welsh Prop (1986-10-13) 13 October 1986 11 Newcastle Falcons
Gray, JonnyJonny Gray Lock (1994-03-14) 14 March 1994 19 Glasgow Warriors
Gray, RichieRichie Gray Lock (1989-08-24) 24 August 1989 51 Castres
Swinson, TimTim Swinson Lock (1987-02-17) 17 February 1987 17 Glasgow Warriors
Cowan, BlairBlair Cowan Flanker (1986-04-21) 21 April 1986 15 London Irish
Hardie, JohnJohn Hardie Flanker (1988-07-27) 27 July 1988 5 Edinburgh
Strokosch, AlasdairAlasdair Strokosch Flanker (1983-02-21) 21 February 1983 47 Perpignan
Wilson, RyanRyan Wilson Flanker (1989-05-18) 18 May 1989 15 Glasgow Warriors
Denton, DavidDavid Denton Number 8 (1990-02-05) 5 February 1990 32 Edinburgh
Strauss, JoshJosh Strauss Number 8 (1986-10-23) 23 October 1986 5 Glasgow Warriors
Hidalgo-Clyne, SamSam Hidalgo-Clyne Scrum-half (1993-08-04) 4 August 1993 8 Edinburgh
Laidlaw, GreigGreig Laidlaw (c) Scrum-half (1985-10-12) 12 October 1985 46 Gloucester
Pyrgos, HenryHenry Pyrgos Scrum-half (1989-07-09) 9 July 1989 17 Glasgow Warriors
Russell, FinnFinn Russell Fly-half (1992-09-23) 23 September 1992 15 Glasgow Warriors
Weir, DuncanDuncan Weir Fly-half (1991-05-10) 10 May 1991 21 Glasgow Warriors
Bennett, MarkMark Bennett Centre (1993-02-03) 3 February 1993 13 Glasgow Warriors
Horne, PeterPeter Horne Centre (1989-10-05) 5 October 1989 15 Glasgow Warriors
Scott, MattMatt Scott Centre (1990-09-30) 30 September 1990 33 Edinburgh
Vernon, RichieRichie Vernon Centre (1987-07-07) 7 July 1987 24 Glasgow Warriors
Lamont, SeanSean Lamont Wing (1981-01-15) 15 January 1981 101 Glasgow Warriors
Maitland, SeanSean Maitland Wing (1988-09-14) 14 September 1988 20 London Irish
Seymour, TommyTommy Seymour Wing (1988-07-01) 1 July 1988 22 Glasgow Warriors
Visser, TimTim Visser Wing (1987-05-29) 29 May 1987 23 Harlequins
Hogg, StuartStuart Hogg Fullback (1992-06-24) 24 June 1992 38 Glasgow Warriors

Head Coach: Vern Cotter

  • Caps updated: 18 October 2015

On 29 September, Blair Cowan replaced Grant Gilchrist in the squad following injury.[107]

On 1 September, Scotland announced their 31-man squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[105] On 14 September, Kevin Bryce replaced Stuart McInally in the squad following injury.[106]

Current squad


Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Argentina 15 6 9 0 40.00% 309 268 +41
 Australia 29 9 20 0 31.03% 364 706 −342
 Canada 4 3 1 0 75.00% 105 49 +56
 England 133 42 73 18 31.58% 1132 1547 −415
 Fiji 6 5 1 0 83.33% 182 145 +37
 France 89 34 52 3 38.20% 1073 1262 −189
 Georgia 1 1 0 0 100.00% 15 6 +9
 Ireland 131 66 60 5 50.38% 1355 1440 −85
 Italy 25 17 8 0 68.00% 588 435 +153
 Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 100.00% 89 0 +89
 Japan 5 5 0 0 100.00% 266 55 +211
 New Zealand 30 0 28 2 0.00% 332 900 −568
 Pacific Islanders 1 1 0 0 100.00% 34 22 +12
 Portugal 1 1 0 0 100.00% 56 10 +46
 Presidents XV 1 1 0 0 100.00% 27 16 +11
 Romania 13 11 2 0 84.62% 475 192 +283
 Samoa 10 8 1 1 80.00% 254 155 +99
 South Africa 26 5 21 0 19.23% 286 686 −400
 Spain 1 1 0 0 100.00% 48 0 +48
 Tonga 4 3 1 0 75.00% 136 58 +78
 United States 5 5 0 0 100.00% 220 66 +154
 Uruguay 1 1 0 0 100.00% 43 12 +31
 Wales 120 48 69 3 40.00% 1211 1584 −373
 Zimbabwe 2 2 0 0 100.00% 111 33 +78
Total 654 276 346 32 42.20% 8711 9647 −936

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Scotland national XV at test level up until 18 October 2015.[104]

Scotland achieved 100 points for the first time in defeating a young and inexperienced Japan side 100–8 on 13 November 2004.[101] The previous record had been 89–0 against Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in the first round of Rugby World Cup 1995. The game versus Japan was played at the home of St. Johnstone F.C., McDiarmid Park, Perth. It was the first time that Scotland had ever played "North of the Forth" (i.e. the Firth of Forth) in the Caledonian region. In the same game Chris Paterson moved ahead of Andy Irvine in the list of Scotland's all-time points scorers.[102][103]


Scotland has competed in every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. Their best finish was fourth in 1991. In their semi-final on 26 October 1991 Scotland lost 6–9 to England at Murrayfield after Gavin Hastings missed a penalty almost in front of and a short distance from the posts. On 30 October Scotland lost the third-place play-off to New Zealand in Cardiff 13–6. Since then they have qualified for the quarter-finals in all but one occasion, in 2011. Their most recent world cup campaign saw them come within 30 seconds of a famous win over Australia, however a last minute penalty sealed the win for the Wallabies.

World Cup






Tournaments 119 86 121 16 121 121
Outright Wins (Shared Wins)
Home Nations 5 (4) NA 4 (4) NA 9 (2) 7 (4)
Five Nations 17 (6) 12 (8) 6 (5) NA 5 (6) 15 (8)
Six Nations 4 5 3 0 0 4
Overall 26 (10) 17 (8) 13 (9) 0 (0) 14 (8) 26 (12)
Grand Slams
Home Nations 0 NA 0 NA 0 2
Five Nations 11 6 1 NA 3 6
Six Nations 1 3 1 0 0 3
Overall 12 9 2 0 3 11
Triple Crowns
Home Nations 5 NA 2 NA 7 6
Five Nations 16 NA 4 NA 3 11
Six Nations 3 NA 4 NA 0 3
Overall 24 NA 10 NA 10 20
Wooden Spoons
Home Nations 11 NA 15 NA 8 8
Five Nations 14 17 21 NA 21 12
Six Nations 0 1 0 10 4 1
Overall 25 18 36 10 33 21

Scotland competes annually in the Six Nations Championship, which is played against five other European nations: France, England, Ireland, Italy and Wales. The Six Nations started out as the Home Nations Championship in 1883, with Scotland sharing the championship with England in 1886 before winning the title outright for the first time a year later. Scotland have won the title outright 14 times and shared the championship a further eight times. Scotland have won three Grand Slams (including the Triple Crown) in 1925, 1984 and 1990, in addition to a further four Triple Crowns. They also contest the Calcutta Cup with England as part of the championship. Scotland were the winners of the last Five Nations in 1999, before Italy joined the competition to make it the Six Nations.

Six Nations

Top 25 rankings as on 1 November 2015[100]
Rank Change* Team Points
1  New Zealand 96.10
2  Australia 89.33
3  South Africa 87.66
4  Wales 83.49
5  Argentina 82.59
6  Ireland 81.17
7  France 79.77
8  England 79.77
9  Scotland 77.94
10  Japan 77.05
11  Fiji 76.96
12  Italy 72.74
13  Tonga 71.60
14  Georgia 71.45
15  Samoa 70.36
16  United States 68.66
17  Romania 66.59
18  Canada 62.65
19  Uruguay 62.11
20  Namibia 61.75
21  Spain 61.54
22  Russia 61.10
23  Chile 57.34
24  Hong Kong 57.31
25  South Korea 56.70
*Change from the previous week
Scotland's Historical Rankings
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 1 November 2015[100]


Between the 2007 Rugby World Cup warm up games and the 2013 South African quadrangular tournament, the fonts used for their number kit on the back of their kits were Crillee Extra Bold Italic. But since Macron took over as kit supplier, the number fonts on the back of their kits were Arial rounded MT bold.

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
1991–94 Umbro No shirt sponsor
1994–98 Pringle The Famous Grouse
1998–2000 Cotton Oxford
2000–08 Canterbury
2008–11 Murray
2011–13 RBS
2013–15 Macron
2015- BT

On 3 September 2007 it was announced that Rangers F.C. chairman Sir David Murray's company would become the new shirt sponsor, investing £2.7 million over the next three years. This came as The Famous Grouse ended its 17-year relationship with the team the month prior to this. The Famous Grouse however, have maintained a low profile link to the Scottish Rugby Union by becoming the main spirit sponsor. This deal is thought to be worth a tenth of the original cost and forbids the Scottish Rugby Union from affiliating itself from any other whisky manufacturer. In August 2011, the Royal Bank of Scotland took over as main sponsors of Scottish Rugby, after Sir David Murray's company decided to end their sponsorship. BT became the primary shirt sponsor as part of the £20 million deal signed in 2014.[99]

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors

Scotland have traditionally worn navy blue jerseys, white shorts and blue socks. On the occasion that Scotland is the home side and the opposing team normally wears dark colours, Scotland will use its change strip. Traditionally this is a white jersey with navy blue shorts and socks. For a brief period, when Cotton Oxford were the shirt sponsors, the white shirt was replaced by a bright orange one with orange and blue hoops on the sleeves. This was first used against the New Zealand Māori 14 November 1998. This change strip was replaced by the traditional white one just two years later. Also during this sponsorship deal, purple was introduced to the traditional blue jersey. This was a significant departure from the traditional colours of blue and white, although purple is inspired from the thistle flower.


"Flower of Scotland" has been used since 1990 as Scotland's unofficial national anthem. It was written by Roy Williamson of The Corries in 1967, and adopted by the SRU to replace "God Save the Queen". In the first year of using "Flower of Scotland" as an anthem, Scotland walked onto the pitch at the beginning of the Five Nations Championship deciding match against England. This combination was explosive and Scotland went on to beat England 13–7 and win the Five Nations Championship with a Grand Slam.

The thistle is the national flower, and also the symbol of the Scotland national rugby union team. According to legend the "guardian thistle" has played its part in the defence of Scotland against a night attack by Norwegian Vikings, one of whom let out a yell of pain when he stepped barefoot on a thistle, alerting the Scottish defenders. The Latin Nemo me impune lacessit ("No-one provokes me with impunity!" in English) is an ancient motto of the Kings of Scotland, and also of Scotland's premier chivalric order, the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, and of the Scots Guards (the latter both "belonging" to the monarch).[98]

The thistle, the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III of Scotland (1249–1286) and the emblem of the Scottish rugby team.

Thistle and the anthem

The 2015 Six Nations Championship ended in a whitewash for Scotland, despite optimism amongst players and supporters beforehand.[94] However, Scotland displayed improved performances in their World Cup warm-up games over the summer, with two wins over Italy and narrow defeats away in Ireland and France.[95] Scotland played well at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England; qualifying from their group by beating Japan, USA and Samoa, although they lost to South Africa. Scotland played Australia in the quarter-finals, and with 30 seconds remaining led 34–32. However, referee Craig Joubert then awarded the Wallabies a highly controversial penalty, later judged by the game's ruling body to be incorrect, which Bernard Foley scored to give Australia victory.[96][97]

Scotland had a dismal 2014 Six Nations campaign; managing only one win (away in Italy), finishing second bottom and hammered 51–3 by Wales in the final match.[90] Vern Cotter finally assumed his role as head coach, and in June of the same year Scotland won three tests against the top teams of the Americas, before being hammered by South Africa 55–6.[91] The three autumn tests held at Murrayfield during November yielded wins over Argentina and Tonga, and a narrow defeat against New Zealand.[92][93] The test against Tonga took place at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, and was the first Rugby Union international to be played on an artificial surface.[93]

During the 2013 Six Nations, Scotland won their matches against Italy and Ireland to finish third, their best finish in the competition since 2006. On 3 May 2013, Johnson was named the first ever Director of Rugby for Scotland responsible for overseeing all rugby in the nation.[88] On 27 May 2013, it was announced that Vern Cotter would become head coach of Scotland, but the SRU had to wait until 2014 as club Clermont failed to reach an agreement with the SRU to release Cotter a year early from his contract.[89]

Scotland were terrible during the 2012 Six Nations, picking up the wooden spoon and being whitewashed, despite promising moments,[82] and falling to 12th, Scotland's lowest ever in the IRB rankings.[83] Even after this whitewash, Scotland defeated Australia 9–6 in the 2012 Scotland rugby union tour of Australia, Fiji and Samoa. This was Scotland's first win in Australia since 1982 and the first time in 30 years that Scotland defeated Australia more than once in a row.[84] Scotland also recorded away wins over both Fiji and Samoa.[85] During Scotland's 2012 Autumn Tests they suffered a series of defeats, versus the All Blacks, South Africa and most notably Tonga, which caused head coach Andy Robinson to resign.[86] Scott Johnson became interim Head Coach for the team in December 2012.[87]

[81] Needing a win going into their final match against England in Auckland, they led 12–3 with a quarter of the game to go, only to lose out to a Chris Ashton try, going down 16–12. This was the first time Scotland had been knocked out in the group stages of the Rugby World Cup.[80] before losing 13–12 to Argentina.[79][78]

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