Ahead of this weekend’s Six Nations the Cutter looks back on five stand-out clashes in the Calcutta Cup. An iconic fixture that evokes a feast of borderline violence, history-making and tea cosies.


1980 – Scotland 12 England 30

England began the championship as 8-1 outsiders yet went on to snag their first Grand Slam since 1957, a campaign that included a ferociously fought 17-13 win at the Park des Princes.

This in truth was a poor Scotland side but the notion of their old rivals clinching a slice of history on the fabled Murrayfield turf was abhorrent. They could do little however to halt the unlikely England juggernaut and by the half-hour mark the visitors were 16 points to the good with John Carleton on his way to becoming the first player to score hat-trick of tries in this fixture since 1924.

The hero of the hour and twenty was Clive Woodward (above), pre knighthood, with hair on his crown, who popped up here, there and everywhere finding gaps in a mediocre Scottish forward line.


1988 – Playing football with the trophy down the Royal Mile

A drab game was followed by a post-match banquet featuring both teams and a plethora of complimentary bottles of whisky. What could possibly go wrong?

Firstly a huge food fight broke out which was predictable and relatively harmless enough. The Scots were demob happy with their fixtures concluded while the likes of Micky ‘the Munch’ Skinner were hardly going to refuse retaliation when the hors d’oeuvres started flying.

Soon after however things took a turn for the worrisome when the Calcutta Cup went missing. Some trophies are little more than a creation of corporate brain-storming: this was melted down from silver rupees following the disbandment in 1878 of the Calcutta Football Club. It represented the spirit of amateur sport. It was fragile and priceless.

Hooker Brian Moore knew who the culprits were and the next morning had in his possession a photograph of Dean Richards and Scotland’s John Jeffreys very much the worst for wear with a clearly damaged cup in the foreground. Richards – a police constable by trade – had a tea cosy on his head.

They had allegedly played football with it down the Royal Mile.  Jeffreys later admitted to visiting “two or three hostelries” with the cup in tow.

He was banned from international rugby for five months. Richards was suspended for one game. Moore – to his immense credit – turned down a ten grand offer for the offending snap from a tabloid newspaper.

1990 – Scotland 13 England 7

With the Calcutta Cup, Five Nations Championship, Triple Crown and Grand Slam up for grabs this was a winner-takes-all behemoth of a clash that needed no further fuel for the fire. The subplots though were so abrasive they threatened to take centre stage.

The Tories were trialling their hated Poll Tax north of the border and to Scottish eyes every red rose was adorned by the grocer’s daughter from Grantham. A bloodied football riot outside Hampden Park seven months earlier hardly helped matters.  So it was that Will Carling’s face was photoshopped onto Edward II’s body in the Scottish papers while Culloden and Bannockburn were mentioned freely.

This then was a stramash for the ages.

Captain David Sole led his side out with a slow determined walk designed to unnerve their opponents before they lined up to belt out Flower of Scotland for only the second ever time.

Watch the clip above. Can you imagine this lot losing that particular day?


2000 – Scotland 19 England 13

Few gave the Scots a prayer against an England side seeking a Grand Slam with Wilkinson, Dallagio, and Dawson in their ranks but learning from their 1980 disappointment this inferior home side threw the kitchen sink at the Auld Enemy.

With the rain pouring relentlessly Duncan Hodge grabbed all 19 points amidst the flying fists and crunching challenges.

This may not be the greatest of Scotland sides but it was arguably their greatest performance. Against the odds. Against the element. Against England.

2007 – England 42 Scotland 20

Having secured the World Cup in Sydney with a last-minute flick of his boot Jonny Wilkinson then endured a horrendous run of injuries that deprived England of one of their finest ever players. Four years later he was back and – proving beyond doubt his rarefied status – returned with a staggering one-man victory accruing 27 points in the process. With a try, conversion, drop-goal and penalty it was a clean sweep, a record-breaking fairytale only the greats can muster.

The Guardian’s comparison summed it up perfectly – “Imagine Tiger Woods missing 30 major championships in a row then shooting a 63 in his comeback at the Open”.