The Calcutta Cup: A Historic Rugby Jewel Worth Witnessing
The Calcutta Cup: A Historic Rugby Jewel Worth Witnessing

The Calcutta Cup: A Historic Rugby Jewel Worth Witnessing

The Calcutta Cup is not just another trophy; it’s a testament to the rich history and fierce rivalry in rugby, specifically between England and Scotland. This annual match is one of the oldest rugby union competitions in the world, and it’s steeped in a tradition that dates back to 1879. The origins and annual clashes of the Calcutta Cup make it a must-see event for sports enthusiasts and a worthy addition to anyone’s bucket list.

Origins of the Calcutta Cup

The story of the Calcutta Cup begins in India, far from the traditional rugby strongholds of the British Isles. In 1878, the Calcutta Football Club decided to disband, but the remaining members had a visionary idea. They withdrew the club’s funds, which were held in silver rupees, and had them melted down to create a trophy. This trophy was then offered to the Rugby Football Union (RFU) with the request that it be used to “further the best interests of Rugby Football in England and Scotland.” Thus, the Calcutta Cup was born as a symbol of the enduring spirit of rugby.

The location of the Calcutta Cup match alternates between England and Scotland each year. When England hosts the match, it is typically held at Twickenham Stadium in London, which is the home of English rugby. On the other hand, when Scotland hosts, the match takes place at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, which is the largest sports stadium in Scotland and the traditional home of Scottish rugby. This alternating arrangement allows fans from both nations to experience the thrill of hosting one of rugby’s most historic rivalries.

The Significance of the Match

The Calcutta Cup is contested annually as part of the Six Nations Championship, previously known as the Home Nations and Five Nations Championships. It specifically commemorates the rivalry between England and Scotland, making it the oldest international rugby tournament involving the same teams.

A Symbol of Rugby Heritage

This Cup is emblematic of more than just a sporting contest; it represents over a century of rugby history, traditions, and the evolution of the game. Each match is a reminder of the sport’s roots and the camaraderie and fierce competitive spirit that define rugby union.

Intense Rivalry

The matches between England and Scotland are renowned for their intensity and have often been pivotal in determining the outcome of the Six Nations Championship. The rivalry is fueled not just by proximity but also by a long history that includes numerous memorable clashes, with each team eager to prove their dominance over the other.

Recent Results and Evolving History of the Calcutta Cup

The Calcutta Cup, a fixture steeped in tradition and rivalry, continues to be a highlight of the Six Nations Championship, drawing attention not just from the United Kingdom but from rugby fans around the world. The recent contests between England and Scotland have been characterized by intense matches, surprising outcomes, and memorable moments that have added new chapters to its storied history.

A Decade of Thrilling Clashes

In the last decade, the results of the Calcutta Cup matches have seen a mix of dominant performances and nail-biting finishes, reflecting the evolving dynamics of rugby in both nations.

  • 2010s Dominance and Shifts: Throughout the early and mid-2010s, England generally held the upper hand, leveraging their depth and strategic play. However, the latter part of the decade saw Scotland making a strong comeback, beginning to challenge and even overturn the dominance of their southern neighbors more consistently.
  • 2018 Turnaround: A notable match in recent history occurred in 2018, when Scotland defeated England 25-13 at Murrayfield. This victory was significant not just for the scoreline but because it marked Scotland’s first win over England in a decade, reigniting the competitive spirit of the fixture.
  • 2019 Stunner: The 2019 match is often remembered as one of the most dramatic in the history of the Calcutta Cup. Held at Twickenham, the game saw Scotland make a remarkable comeback from being 31-7 down at halftime to draw the match 38-38, retaining the Cup due to the rules of the competition.
  • 2021 and 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic brought its own set of challenges to international sports, including the Six Nations Championship. In 2021, Scotland claimed a historic victory at Twickenham, winning 11-6. It was their first win at the venue since 1983, highlighting a significant shift in their performance and approach. In 2022, Scotland defended the Cup successfully at Murrayfield with a 20-17 victory, showcasing their growing prowess and resilience.

Impact of Recent Results

The recent results of the Calcutta Cup have not only provided thrilling spectacles for fans but have also had a considerable impact on the sport within both nations:

  • Renewed Rivalry: The competitive balance has seen a shift, with Scotland’s recent performances energizing the rivalry and adding unpredictability to the outcomes. This has revitalized interest in the Calcutta Cup and increased its prestige as a fixture that is never a foregone conclusion.
  • Development of Players and Tactics: The intense competition has been a crucible for player development. Emerging talents on both sides have risen to prominence, influenced by the high stakes and the unique pressure of this historic rivalry.
  • Cultural and Fan Engagement: The thrilling matches and fluctuating dominance have intensified fan engagement, with each match drawing significant attention from the media and public. The Calcutta Cup remains a central cultural event for both nations during the Six Nations, celebrated with fervor and passion by supporters.

Why the Calcutta Cup Should Be on Your Bucket List

Experience the Atmosphere

Attending a Calcutta Cup match allows you to experience firsthand the electrifying atmosphere of a historic rivalry played out in a stadium packed with passionate fans. The energy in the air during these matches is palpable, as supporters from both sides cheer vehemently for their teams.

Witness High-Quality Rugby

The matches are known for showcasing some of the highest levels of skill and determination in international rugby. It’s a display of top-tier athleticism and strategy as each team battles not just for victory but for national pride.

Enjoy the Festivities

The game day experience is about more than just the match. It includes the buildup, the tailgating parties, and the post-match celebrations or commiserations. It’s a social event that brings together fans from diverse backgrounds, all united by their love for rugby.

A Lesson in Sportsmanship

Despite the fierce rivalry, the Calcutta Cup is also a lesson in sportsmanship. After hard-fought battles, players from both teams demonstrate mutual respect, embodying the true spirit of rugby. This spirit is what makes rugby unique and why the match resonates with so many around the world.

Detailed Itinerary for Spending 3 Days in London

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration

  • Morning: Arrive in London and check into your accommodation. Start your day with a leisurely stroll along the South Bank of the Thames, taking in iconic sights such as the London Eye and Tate Modern.
  • Afternoon: Visit the historic Borough Market for a culinary adventure, sampling gourmet treats from around the world.
  • Evening: Immerse yourself in London’s vibrant nightlife scene by exploring the trendy bars and pubs of Soho and Covent Garden.

Day 2: Cultural Immersion

  • Morning: Explore the British Museum and discover artifacts from civilizations across the globe.
  • Afternoon: Take a stroll through Hyde Park and visit Kensington Palace, former residence of Princess Diana.
  • Evening: Catch a West End show in London’s renowned theater district, experiencing the magic of live performance.

Day 3: Game Day Excitement

  • Morning: Fuel up with a hearty English breakfast before heading to the stadium for the Calcutta Cup Rugby Match.
  • Afternoon: Immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere of the match as England and Scotland battle it out on the field.
  • Evening: Celebrate the outcome of the game with fellow rugby fans at a nearby pub, sharing stories and toasting to the spirit of competition.

Detailed Itinerary for Spending 3 Days in Edinburgh

A three-day visit to Edinburgh during the Calcutta Cup is a fantastic opportunity not only to enjoy world-class rugby but also to explore the rich history and vibrant culture of Scotland’s capital. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your trip:

Day 1: Explore Historic Edinburgh

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Situated on Castle Rock, it offers a panoramic view of the city and houses Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Allocate a couple of hours to explore as there is much to see.
  • Lunch: Enjoy lunch at one of the local pubs or cafes along the Royal Mile, where you can sample traditional Scottish dishes like haggis, neeps, and tatties.
  • Afternoon: After lunch, continue down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Nearby, explore the Scottish Parliament and the dynamic architecture of the area.
  • Evening: Dine in the trendy Leith district, known for its excellent seafood and contemporary Scottish cuisine. Consider visiting a local pub later for some live Scottish music.

Day 2: Match Day Excitement

  • Morning: Have a leisurely breakfast at your hotel or a nearby cafe. If you’re feeling energetic, take a brisk walk up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, which provides another splendid view of the city.
  • Pre-Match: Head to Murrayfield Stadium early to soak in the pre-match atmosphere. Enjoy the pre-game festivities, mingle with fans, and perhaps participate in some traditional tailgating.
  • Match Time: Experience the thrill of the Calcutta Cup. Whether you’re cheering for Scotland or just there for the experience, the energy and passion are contagious.
  • Post-Match: Depending on the result, join in the celebrations or commiserations at the pubs around Murrayfield or back in the city center.

Day 3: Art, Culture, and Shopping

  • Morning: Visit the National Museum of Scotland to explore Scottish history, from its geological origins to modern times. The museum is vast, so you might want to focus on areas that particularly interest you.
  • Lunch: Grab a bite at one of the trendy cafes on George Street, known for its stylish boutiques and eateries.
  • Afternoon: Spend your last afternoon shopping and exploring the boutiques of the New Town, or if you prefer more cultural activities, check out the Scottish National Gallery.
  • Evening: On your final night, consider a sophisticated dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the city center, offering innovative dishes that blend Scottish ingredients with international techniques.

Places to Eat, Stay and work for Hipsters and Digital Nomads

When attending the Calcutta Cup in Edinburgh or London, you’ll want to know the best places to eat, stay, and find co-working spaces. Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh’s historic charm or London’s bustling cityscape, here’s a guide to help you make the most of your stay in each city.


Where to Eat

  • The Witchery by the Castle: Located near Edinburgh Castle, this iconic restaurant offers Scottish cuisine in a luxurious, gothic setting—perfect for a special dinner.
  • Ting Thai Caravan: For something more casual, enjoy authentic Thai street food in a bustling atmosphere near the University of Edinburgh.
  • Leith Chop House: Head to Leith for some of the best British beef and seafood, complemented by a selection of craft beers and Scottish whiskies.

Where to Stay

  • The Balmoral Hotel: This historic luxury hotel in the heart of the city offers exquisite rooms and splendid views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat.
  • Apex Grassmarket Hotel: For those looking for something a bit more modern and affordable, this hotel offers great amenities and a prime location near the city’s historic sites.
  • Code Pod Hostels – The Court: A budget-friendly option with a trendy pod hostel concept, located centrally and ideal for younger visitors or solo travelers.

Co-working Spaces

  • The Melting Pot: One of the first co-working spaces in Scotland, offering a friendly atmosphere and excellent facilities in the city center.
  • Spaces – George Street: Set in a beautifully renovated historic building, this space offers a productive environment with a fantastic view of the New Town.
  • Regus – Edinburgh Princes Street: Situated in one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious streets, it offers flexible working spaces with easy access to major transport links.


Where to Eat

  • Dishoom Covent Garden: For a taste of Bombay in London, Dishoom offers an unforgettable Indian dining experience with an ambiance inspired by the old Irani cafés of Mumbai.
  • Flat Iron Steak: This is a great choice for steak lovers looking for quality food without the high-end price tag. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait.
  • Borough Market: For a more diverse dining experience, visit Borough Market, where you can sample a variety of foods from around the world from its numerous vendors.

Where to Stay

  • The Savoy: Offering a quintessentially British experience, this luxury hotel is known for its elegant rooms and prime location on the Strand, close to Covent Garden.
  • The Hoxton, Shoreditch: Perfect for travelers looking for a hip vibe and great amenities in one of London’s trendiest neighborhoods.
  • Generator London: This is a chic yet affordable hostel located close to King’s Cross, ideal for younger travelers or those sticking to a budget.

Co-working Spaces

  • WeWork London Fields: Located in the heart of East London, this space is known for its creative environment, attracting a mix of entrepreneurs and artists.
  • The Office Group – Borough: Situated just moments away from the Borough Market, this co-working space offers stylish interiors and flexible workspaces suitable for all types of professionals.
  • Central Working Victoria: Located in the bustling area around Victoria station, it provides excellent facilities and networking opportunities in a highly accessible location.

Whether you’re in Edinburgh or London for the Calcutta Cup or simply exploring, these recommendations will ensure you have a comfortable, enjoyable, and productive stay.