What is the Calcutta Cup in Rugby Union

Rugby has a host of incredibly historic trophies and awards, with one of the most prestigious being the Calcutta Cup. 

What is the Calcutta Cup in Rugby Union? The Calcutta Cup is the trophy that is given to the winner of a match between England and Scotland. These two teams play each other once a year and the winner gets the Calcutta Cup. 

England and Scotland are two of the oldest rugby nations and have been playing each other for more than 140 years. To commemorate this rivalry, the winner of the annual game between England and Scotland is awarded the Calcutta Cup, which is the same trophy that has been awarded to the winner since 1878. 

England and Scotland only play once a year, which is during the Six Nations in the first few months of the year. Whoever wins the match gets the Calcutta cup. In the event of a draw, the cup stays with the team who won the match the previous year, which was the case in 2019 when the two teams drew 38-38. 

What is the origin of the Calcutta Cup? 

The Calcutta cup dates all the way back to 1871 when England and Scotland played against each other in the first-ever game of international rugby. With rugby union being invented in England, there were not many countries playing it and so England and Scotland became the first two countries to play an international game. 

Since then, the teams have played an international almost every year since and it has created the historic rivalry between the two teams. The Calcutta Cup was first awarded to the winner in 1879. 

The cup itself has a very interesting background. In 1872, soldiers from England and Scotland played a game of rugby football in Calcutta, India. These soldiers were part of the British Empire and so had brought the game over with them. 

The match in Calcutta became so popular that the Calcutta Football Club was formed just a month later. The Calcutta Cup joined the English Rugby Football Union a year later. Unfortunately, India was much too hot for Rugby to become a popular sport, with memberships taking a drop in the next few years. 

By 1878, the club was disbanded and the members withdrew their funds from the club’s bank. The funds were in the form of Silver Rupees, the Indian currency. The members decided to use 270 of these Rupees to make the trophy, so they melted them down and formed a trophy. 

The trophy was given to the RFU in 1878 and it has been the trophy that England and Scotland have played for ever since. The reason why the trophy is called the Calcutta Cup is that it is named after the Calcutta Football Club who gave the trophy to the RFU. 

How many times have England won the Calcutta Cup? 

England have won the Calcutta Cup 71 times in the history of the competition. Throughout the history of English Rugby, there have been vast periods where they have been dominant in the Calcutta Cup. England won the competition thirteen years in a row beginning with a 5-3 win over Scotland in 1951. 

England won the Calcutta Cup 14 times out of 15 years from 1991 to 2005, in part thanks to the side that won the World Cup in 2003. More recently, England had a dominant spell in the Calcutta Cup, winning every year from 2009 to 2017 including massive wins in 2013 and 2017.  

How many times have Scotland won the Calcutta Cup? 

Scotland have won the Calcutta Cup 42 times in the country’s history. They have not won the competition as many times as England, with England winning the cup 29 more times than Scotland. This disparity has not always been there. 

In fact, in 1950 the two teams were tied, having both won the Calcutta Cup 25 times. It was thanks to some very good Scottish teams of the 1890s and 1900s. Since 1950, England has taken control of the Calcutta Cup. 

But Scotland have still won the trophy 17 times since 1950. Scotland won the trophy three years in a row from 1964 to 1966 and then again from 1970 to 1972. Despite England dominating since the start of the 21st century, Scotland have been in control of the rivalry for the last five years. 

After a massive 61-21 loss in 2017, Scotland bounced back with the win a year later, the first since 2008. In the last five years, Scotland have won the Calcutta Cup four times, including a thrilling 38-38 draw in 2019 that saw Scotland hold onto the trophy. 

Who won the Calcutta Cup 2022? 

Scotland won the 2022 Calcutta Cup, beating England 20-17 in both teams’ first game of the Six Nations. Scotland started the game brightly, taking advantage of bad handling from England for Ben White to score for Scotland. England fought back and held a 17-10 lead after a penalty from Marcus Smith in the 63rd minute. 

The turning point of the game was when England Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie swatted down a Crossfield kick to prevent Scotland from scoring. It was awarded as a penalty try and Cowan-Dickie was sent to the sin bin. While England were down a man, Finn Russell slotted a penalty in the 72nd minute, which would turn out to be the winning points. 

When did England last win the Calcutta Cup? 

England last won the Calcutta Cup in 2020 when they defeated Scotland 6-13 in Edinburgh. It did not look like England would be winning the title, with the teams tied at 3-3 after 70 minutes of rugby. It was in the 70th minute that England prop Ellis Genge was driven through the Scotland defence for the score. 

An Owen Farrell penalty was matched by a penalty from Adam Hastings, so the try was enough for England to win the game. It was England’s first Calcutta Cup since 2017 and they have not won the cup since. Scotland have been the better team in the Calcutta Cup over the last five years. 

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