The Calcutta Cup is one of the most famous and historic trophies in the world of rugby. It is awarded to the winner of the annual rugby match between England and Scotland, two of the sport's oldest rivals. However, the origins of this prestigious trophy may surprise you, as its roots trace back to an entirely different part of the world. In this article, we will explore the fascinating story behind the Calcutta Cup and its journey from India to the British Isles.
The Birth of the Calcutta Cup:
The story begins in the late 19th century in Calcutta, India, where the sport of rugby was gaining popularity among the British colonial residents. The Calcutta (Rugby) Football Club was established in 1872, but by 1878, the club was struggling to maintain interest and membership due to the tropical climate and the departure of British officers.
The remaining members of the Calcutta (Rugby) Football Club decided to disband and withdraw the club's funds, which amounted to 270 silver rupees. They came up with the idea to melt down the silver coins and use the metal to create a trophy that would serve as a symbol of rugby's values and spirit. The trophy was to be presented to the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in England as a gesture of goodwill and to commemorate the sport's history in India.
Crafting the Trophy:
The silver rupees were melted down and crafted into a stunning trophy by Indian silversmiths. The resulting masterpiece is a work of art, featuring intricate details such as three king cobras as the handles, an elephant on the lid, and a plaque depicting a rugby match. The trophy stands 18 inches tall and weighs nearly 4 kilograms.
The Journey to England:
Upon completion, the Calcutta Cup was shipped to England and presented to the RFU in 1878. The following year, in 1879, the first Calcutta Cup match took place between England and Scotland. Since then, the annual clash between these two rugby powerhouses has become a highly anticipated event and a cherished tradition in the rugby calendar.
The Calcutta Cup, with its unique and unexpected origins, is a testament to the global reach and enduring appeal of rugby. Its journey from India to the British Isles is a fascinating story that intertwines history, culture, and the spirit of the sport. Today, the Calcutta Cup serves as a symbol of the fierce rivalry between England and Scotland and as a reminder of rugby's ability to unite people across continents.