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A renewed rivalry

As Edinburgh and St Andrews gear up for this year’s Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Varsity Rugby Match, we look back on a renewed rivalry that began in 2011.

Rob Cuthbertson
Rob Cuthbertson, Scottish Varsity match 2011.

The Scottish Football Union was established in March 1873 with eight clubs represented including Edinburgh University, which had been founded in 1857, and the University of St Andrews Rugby Football Club, whose history dates back to 1858.

A varsity fixture between the two universities was first played over 150 years ago and predates the Oxford vs Cambridge Varsity match which began in 1872.

Back to life

Discontinued in the 1950s, the Scottish Varsity match was resurrected in 2011 after a hiatus of over 50 years. Then in different divisions, it was a David versus Goliath encounter that saw Edinburgh run out 39-0 victors.

On the eve of the 2015 match, we spoke to two 2011 participants – centre, Calum Williams and full back, Rob Cuthbertson – both of whom graduated from the School of GeoSciences in 2013.

Rob, sadly viewing from the side line after tearing his hamstring early in the game, remembers an eagerly anticipated fixture with a sizable crowd and a try from Adam Davidson (Philosophy and English Literature, 2013) that, was a great team effort.

Calum Williams
Calum Williams, Scottish Varsity match 2011.

A try for Edinburgh also sticks in Calum’s mind with a 50 meter breakaway effort his personal highlight.

Honours even

Edinburgh’s superiority has not, unfortunately, been maintained. Victory in 2012 was followed by defeats in 2013 and 2014.

According to Calum Williams, this increased competitiveness is part of the fixture’s appeal and both he and Rob believe the tide is about to turn, predicting an Edinburgh win in 2015 – Rob by a 10 point margin.  

The varsity game seems to have grown in significance. When it started Edinburgh would expect to put a good number of points past St Andrews but now there seems to be a genuine healthy rivalry between the two Universities, with 2 wins each over the last 4 years.

Calum Williams

All change

In recent years, the fixture has been staged in London at the home of London Scottish RFC as a means of fostering connections with alumni. This September the fixture is returning to Scotland and will take place in Edinburgh at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby since 1925, on Saturday 26 September from 3pm. The match is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

There have also been changes to the composition of the day with the women’s 2nd and 3rd XVs also featuring, reflecting the growth and popularity of the women’s game.

I am definitely jealous that it is now being played at Murrayfield so all the other students will be able to go down and watch and should make for a great atmosphere to play in front of. 

Calum Williams

Support Edinburgh University at Murrayfield

Alumni, staff, students, supporters, friends and family are welcome to attend the game and all tickets are free if booked online in advance before Friday 18th September. From Saturday 19th September, tickets will be available for £5.00 online, or at the turnstiles on the day.

Book Scottish Rugby Varsity match tickets online (Eventbrite)

Related links

The University of Edinburgh Sports Union

Edinburgh University RFC

Edinburgh University Ladies Rugby Football Club