University of Edinburgh Rugby
Welcome to the official website of the Edinburgh University RFC.
Edinburgh University Rugby Football Club is a leading rugby union side based in Edinburgh, Scotland which currently plays its fixtures in the Edinburgh Regional Shield competition and the British Universities Premiership. It is one of the eight founder members of the Scottish Rugby Union. In the years prior to the SRU’s introduction of club leagues in 1973 and the advent of professionalism in the 1990s, EURFC was a major club power and it won the ‘unofficial’ Scottish Club championship several times. It remains a club with an all-student committee, and is only open to students of the University of Edinburgh.
Established in 1857, the Club now plays its home fixtures at the University of Edinburgh’s Peffermill playing grounds, having moved from its traditional ground at Craiglockhart in the season 1982–83. Its first ever match was in December 1857 against Edinburgh Academicals FC – in 2007 the two clubs replayed that fixture to celebrate the 150th anniversary of EURFC’s founding using replica period kit, ball and complying to the older rules.
EURFC has produced 72 young full-international (for major IRB countries) players whilst still students representing the Club; these include 1924 Olympic 400m Gold Medallist Eric Liddell, 1904 British Lions captain David Bedell-Sivright – one of the seven EURFC members also to play as British Lions whilst still students at the club, Norman Mair – the future legendary sports writer and Scotland cricketer, Black & MacDonald the great 1950 British Lions half-back partnership, and Ian Smith ‘The Flying Scot’ from the 1920s who held the 5-nations try-scoring record for many years.
Many more of Rugby’s international players worldwide played for the University prior to being capped from other clubs; these include Scotland and British Lions greats Dan Drysdale, and Andy Irvine, both future SRU Presidents from Heriot’s FP, David Johnston (Watsonians) who had also played as a contracted footballer for Heart of Midlothian FC, and the recent Club coach Ian Barnes who won many Scotland caps from the Hawick club.
In 1871 Club member Angus Buchanan scored the first ever International try in the inaugural International match whilst representing Scotland versus England at Raeburn Place. There were three current Club representatives in the Scottish brown jerseys on that day; the other two being J.Forsyth and J.L.H MacFarlane.
In 1901 after winning the Scottish unofficial championship, the Club provided an extraordinary eight members of the Scotland XV to defeat Wales that February. These were Bedell-Sivright, A.B Flett, Alfred Fell, Alex Frew, W.H Welsh, F.M Fasson, A.B Timms, and A.W. Duncan. Of these, Alex Frew not only won three Scotland caps from EURFC but also captained South Africa in its first ever match against the touring British Lions on his lone appearance for that country in 1903. This was as a representative member of the Western Province, where he had settled as a doctor after his Edinburgh graduation of 1902.
A great Rugby rarity happened in 1910 when EURFC player C.G. Timms had the distinction of representing the Club throughout that year and the British & Irish Lions on tour to South Africa without ever winning an international cap before or after. ‘Charlie’ Timms may have made up for his lack of international caps by going on to be awarded four Military Crosses in World War I as a Medical Officer – another great and possibly unique rarity. His brother A.B Timms was capped for Scotland from the Club in 1896, but by the time he was selected for the Lions tour of 1899 he was then representing the Edinburgh Wanderers club.
The Club’s fortunes waned in the 1930s, but a great revival took place in the 1950s, and 60s when the Club finished runners-up in Scotland’s unofficial championship twice in 1963–64 and 1966–67 – in the latter year 28 out of the 34 matches played were won and the club which led the competition in April which was quite enough to have won outright, was highly commended for sportingly arranging extra fixtures, one of which was lost to Hawick who then just won that championship. In this time names such as contemporary Scotland internationals John Frame, Ian Smith (who went on to score the famous Scotland try that defeated South Africa in 1969), and Harry Rea (an Irish cap) were to the fore.
The last major international player from the Club was Jock Millican, thrice capped in 1972–73. This was after the decision had been taken by the Club’s [all-student] committee to back the SRU proposal for a fully league system on the grounds that it would benefit Scottish rugby as a whole, but also in the full knowledge that this would inevitably pose great problems for the Club itself. Since 1973 only Phil Lucas has been capped internationally while playing for Barbados in 2009.
Until 1983 EURFC enjoyed regular home and away fixtures with Oxford and Cambridge Universities often with distinct success; many players have interchanged between the three University Clubs on graduations – two of many notable examples of this being Ian Smith, ‘The Flying Scot’ who joined Edinburgh from Oxford and played for 4 seasons from 1924, and Micky Steele-Bodger of England, and Barbarians President fame – a 1947 Edinburgh postgraduate from Cambridge destined to become future Chairman of the International Rugby Board. In this time EURFC also had regular fixtures with the University XV’s of Durham, Newcastle, and other northern English Institutions. EURFC has often received and played against Clubs from all of the major Rugby playing countries
In the years 1973 until 2012 the Club retained a position within the top 36 clubs in the SRU league structure on Saturdays; occasional promotions into the Scottish Premiership were usually balanced by returns to the top end of the National League below. Wednesday afternoons saw fixtures in the Scottish Universities championship which was won many times and very many players represented the Scottish Universities XV. A memorable victory in the SRU’S Scottish HydroElectric Bowl competition was registered in 2009 with the final being played against Aberdeenshire RFC at Murrayfield. However great ambition coupled with reorganisations in the British University competition saw the Club qualify for admission to BUCS Premier North ‘B’ League at the first available opportunity; this inevitably saw a deeply reluctant departure from the SRU league structure to aid concentration on the enormous travelling requirements south of the border. The Club remains the only Scottish University at this level.