The Glasgow-Edinburgh Inter-City match – these days contested for the 1872 Cup – is the oldest such fixture in world rugby, dating back to … well, the clue is in the trophy. While the teams go head-to-head over the next two weekends, this game didn’t always carry the sponsorship, marketing or TV audience it does today. Stewart Weir looks back at the not-too-dim-and-distant past, and picks the best from yesteryear.


The centenary year of this fixture, and two games for good measure. The first came in the April, Edinburgh winning a play-off 20-16 to claim the District title. However, five days shy of the 100th anniversary, on November 18, Edinburgh beat Glasgow 30-19 at Murrayfield. Even then, the home of Scottish rugby was hosting these matches. However, this was back in the day of the ground’s famed “electric blanket”.

The fixture itself was no more than a tie in the Inter-District Championship. The biggest talking point was that in those days medical replacements, never mind tactical substitutions, were not allowed and Glasgow effectively lost man and game simultaneously when, in a reporting style then that made him look like a casualty of war, “AR Grant (Glasgow High School FP)” succumbed to a broken collar bone.


“In Affectionate Remembrance of GLASGOW RUGBY which died at Inverleith on December 16. 1978. Deeply lamented by a large circle of Sorrowing Friends and Acquaintances. The Ashes will be on view at Hughenden later this week.”

So went the intro to Bill McMurtrie’s piece in The Herald 40 years ago, a play on the famous obituary, penned for the Sporting Times in 1882, and now resident in the Lord’s Cricket Museum, after England lost to Australia. And thus, The Ashes were born.

There may not have been any cremation at Inverleith, but to use modern parlance, Glasgow got burned by their capital rivals, Edinburgh winning 44-9, scoring eight tries to none, and producing the widest winning margin in any of the 99 previous derby matches.

It wasn’t as if Glasgow had a poor side out; Ian McLauchlan captained the west coast XV, with names like Matt Duncan, still a teenager with West of Scotland who’s Scotland career was still a good eight years off. David Gray and Tony Brogan were also among the Burnbrae contingent.

On paper, pretty much as it was on the field, Edinburgh looked to have the quality, and in quantity. The back division sported Bruce Hay, Bill Gammell, David Johnston, and Dougie Morgan, while the pack wasn’t lacking in talent, with Iain Milne the cornerstone of the scrum and a back-row featuring Jim Calder, Bill Watson and Alex Brewster.

Scotland winger Gammell bagged a hat-trick, Harry Burnett a brace, with Callum Munro, Duncan Wilson and Calder, on his district debut, all touching down.

Given this was an Edinburgh team of the late-1970s why no mention of Andy Irvine. Injured? Dropped? No, he had the day off – to face the All Blacks, in Cardiff, on call for the Barbarians.


This was the last year of the Inter-District Championship as it had been known for 40-odd years. Professionalism had come in to rugby union and the inter-city game would never be the same again. Maybe no bad thing for Glasgow, who at Murrayfield on the last Saturday of the year found themselves on the end of a whopping 57-13 loss, Edinburgh captain and Currie stalwart Ally Donaldson scoring two tries, five conversions and four penalties. Four thousand watched the game, an exceptional figure back then.


The old Inter-District Championship was long gone and, after various incarnations and sponsors, the oldest rivalry in rugby was revived and rebranded as the 1872 Cup, a double-header between Scotland’s two Magners League teams. The first, in December that year, saw Edinburgh squeeze past Glasgow 35-31, courtesy of Ben Cairns late touchdown, although Warriors would take the pot on aggregate.

2009 and 2010

Two for the price of one here, and for no other reason than an example of how this fixture had grown into a substantial commercial opportunity. Inspired by the likes of French side Stade Francais, Edinburgh ditched tradition and introduced some questionable design “specials” for this encounter. No chance of a colour clash with these kits (pictured left).


If either of the forthcoming 1872 Cup games match this one for points, thrills or excitement then the punters will enter 2019 well pleased. Staged in late April at Scotstoun, Glasgow had won the first instalment 20-16 and in the second leg, despite converted tries from Tim Visser and Tomas Leonardi late in the day, Glasgow held on to win 37-34, with tries from Peter Murchie (2), Ruaridh Jackson, Mark Bennett (pictured) and Rob Harley and 12 points from the boot of some young winger by the name of Finn Russell. Whatever happened to him?