One of world rugby’s most famous and coveted trophies was paraded at the Highland Rugby Club on Saturday as the Canal Park outfit kicked off the centenary celebrations.
The Calcutta Cup, which originally dates from 1878, is steeped in colorful history and competed each year by Scotland and England as the oldest of the six Six Nations awards.
In a proud chapter in the club’s history, Highland greats Nairn MacEwan and John Frame both played in the Five Nations Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham on March 20, 1971.
They emerged victorious – a first loss to the Auld Enemy in 33 years – before scoring a famous double from Twickenham a week later in a Centennial match.
Highland Head Coach Dave Carson said: “It’s just wonderful to be able to present the Calcutta Cup at the start of our centenary.
“We are very proud to have had two such great players from the past to represent the Highlands in the Scotland-England game.
“It’s just a shame that the Covid restrictions at the club have curtailed plans to kick off the centennial year a bit, but it’s an absolute honor to have had this very special trophy with us on Saturday.”
Mr. MacEwan became a regular in his country in the early 1970s, then coached the national team and Italian club Rovigo. He passed away in May 2018. Mr Frame, who also performed for Gala, is also remembered for his efforts in Scotland.
The high jinks of the victorious Scottish players in 1988 damaged the original Calcutta Cup and it remains in fragile condition, meaning rugby authorities rarely allow its transport to events such as Highland’s.
The beautifully crafted replica that is seen each year raised above the winners’ heads is, in itself, a masterpiece and will again be contested between the two nations on February 5.
The original was made after the Calcutta Football Club (Rugby) in India disbanded in 1878.
The members had decided to keep the memory of the club alive by melting the 270 rupees remaining in their bank account into a trophy.
Indian manufacturing features finely engraved details such as three king cobras forming the handles and an elephant on the domed lid.
It is kept in a safe place at the Museum of Rugby, Twickenham.