What is the Calcutta Cup? All you need to know about the famous prize

What is the Calcutta Cup? All you need to know about the famous prize

England and Scotland meet at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon in the Six Nations with the winners lifting the Calcutta Cup.

This we know. But why is a contest between England and Scotland for something called the Calcutta Cup? It seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?


The trophy dates back all the way to 1878, even before the first Home Nations tournament (the precursor to the current Six Nations), and it originates, as you might expect, in Calcutta.

Rugby gained popularity in India in the early 1870s with the Calcutta (Rugby) Football Club being established in 1873 by former Rugby School students.

However, with the rise of sports such as cricket and polo, interest in rugby waned and Calcutta patrons were further put off by the cancellation of the free bar at the club.

In 1878 the Calcutta (Rugby) Football Club disbanded but the members still had 270 silver rupees left in the bank account and wanted to do something with them.

The coins were melted down and made into a trophy which was presented to the Rugby Football Union to be used for ‘the best means of doing some lasting good for the cause of Rugby Football.’


As England and Scotland were the pre-eminent sides in world rugby at the time, the Calcutta Cup became the prize for the winners of the annual contest between the nations from 1879 onwards.

When the Home Nations tournament began in 1883 it seemed that the Calcutta Cup would then go to the winners of the competition, but due to popular demand it remained for the victors of the annual England v Scotland clash.

The design of the cup represents where it was created as an Indian elephant sits atop the trophy, with three King cobras acting as the handles.