1872 Cup: Facts and stats

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A feast of rugby awaits fans of the Scottish pro teams as they look forward to December’s derby matches. The 1872 Cup may be a relatively recent creation but it epitomises a rivalry that stretches back over 140 years.

1872 to 1953

The very first Glasgow v Edinburgh meeting took place on 23 November 1872 at Burnbank, home of Glasgow Accies, and has the very precise historical claim of being the world’s first non-international representative rugby union fixture. The game was 20-a-side (a possible tactical choice for Alan Solomons to even the odds?) and saw Edinburgh emerge victorious by a drop goal to nil (someone may need to explain to the current Warriors squad what a drop goal is). There wasn’t actually a cup up for grabs – it would take more than 100 years before that came along. This may have been due to fears on the East coast that their Weegie counterparts would melt down any trophy and sell it in the 19th century equivalent of Cash for Gold.

1953 to 1995

Starting in the 1953/54 season Glasgow and Edinburgh games were contested as part of the Scottish Inter-District Championship. Alongside Borders (scary farmers ), North & Midlands (hairy teuchters) and (intermittently) a Scottish Exiles side (players not good enough for England so poached by Scotland) the 2 city teams played each other once a season. Glasgow only managed to win the tournament outright on 3 occasions, compared to 8 for Edinburgh. Clearly as the true embodiment of the Corinthian spirit and amateur ethos it was the taking part that counted and not anything so crass as winning.

1995 to 2002

The 4 districts were to be the precursors for the Border Reivers, Caledonia Reds, Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby (some real blue sky thinking on Embra’s name there) who were to compete in European competition with the advent of professionalism. The 4 teams played a qualifying tournament and as part of this a newly sponsored trophy was created for the games between Glasgow and Edinburgh. With the demise of the Reivers and the Reds in 1998 the Inter-City Cup was contested over one-off fixtures for the following 4 seasons but, with Glasgow the final holders of the trophy, this ended in 2002 and the hiatus extended until 2007.

2002 to 2007

With the inception of the Celtic League initially Glasgow and Edinburgh were placed in separate groups and there were no East-West grudge matches. Starting from the 2003/04 season the sides met on a home and away basis as part of regular league play. If the 1872 Scottish Cup had been around during this time it would have been won by the Gunners in 2003/04 and 2004/05 and by the Warriors in 2005/06 and 2006/07. Highlights of this period for each team would be:

  • Embra’s 25-16 victory at Hughenden (2003/04) – their only away win in this fixture during the Celtic League / Pro 12 era.
  • The Weegie’s Budgie-inspired 46-6 shellacking of their capital cousins at Firhill (2005/06) – a rare high point in a campaign that saw them finish dead last.

Overall the aggregate score for this period was Glasgow 158 – 147 Edinburgh with fixtures watched by an average annual attendance of 6,232.

2007 onwards

Heedless of the fact that the existing cup was held in its rightful location in the West of Scotland the 2007/08 season saw the 1872 Cup inaugurated. Doubtless dreamt up by some bright spark marketing bod called Tarquin as a way to create more interest in the Scottish derby matches, this new trophy at least had the weight of history behind it and marked the 135th anniversary of the very first Glasgow v Edinburgh fixture.

Since it was instituted the cup has primarily belonged to Glasgow with the Warriors taking the trophy on aggregate on 6 occasions to Edinburgh’s 2. Of the 16 games completed, 11 have been won by Glasgow and 4 by Edinburgh (with one draw). Home advantage and an early lead have been significant factors with only 3 away wins (all for the Warriors at Murrayfield) and only 3 games won by the side who was behind at half time (again all for the Warriors). The 1872 Cup has been seen by an average annual attendance of 18,522 and the game at Murrayfield on Sunday 27th December will take total crowd numbers over the 150,000 mark.

Aggregate score: 344

Aggregate score: 323

Tries scored: 31

Tries scored: 27

Biggest win: 25-12

Biggest win: 39-6

Players used: 70

Players used: 90

Most appearances:

15 Dougie Hall
14 Al Kellock
14 Moray Low
14 Ross Ford
10 Roddy Grant
10 Greig Laidlaw

2 former Embra men topping the charts for Glasgow. Bob Harley is the most experienced current Warrior having featured in 9 games so far, only missing one (through injury) since his debut season. Fordy may well overtake Dougie Hall in the overall list as he will be expected to play in both legs this season.

Most points:

99 Dan Parks
49 Duncan Weir
39 Ruaridh Jackson
63 Phil Godman
49 Greig Laidlaw
35 Tim Visser

Always ‘popular’ in the East, Dan Parks was the scourge of Edinburgh for many years, including 3 seasons of the 1872 Cup. World Class Phil was the architect of a couple of Edinburgh’s biggest wins. With just 13 points, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is the current top scorer in the black and red squad.

Most tries:

4 DTH van der Merwe
3 Rob Harley
3 Ruaridh Jackson
3 Dan Parks
7 Tim Visser
3 Ben Cairns
2 Mike Blair
2 Simon Webster
 No surprises at number one for the Weeg but Big Bad Bob’s appearance as a veritable try machine shows he must really like to stick it up Embra – 3 tries in 9 games in the 1872 Cup compared to 4 in 117 for the rest of his Glasgow career! Tim Visser must rank as the East coast equivalent of Dan Parks for Warriors fans – that annoying player who always seems to pick up crucial scores. Timbo has almost twice as many cup tries as the whole of the current Edinburgh squad (4 in total).

This season there’s a sell out at Scotstoun and the Murrayfield crowd is expected to be north of 16,000, demonstrating once again the 1872 Cup has been one of the success stories of the pro era for Scottish rugby. Hopefully the fare served up by Glasgow and Edinburgh will match the interest shown by the fans and some new and old names make their mark on this historic fixture.

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