Historic Timelines

The Edinburgh Academical Football Club, formed in 1857, is the oldest rugby club in Scotland, the second oldest in the world and one of the founding members of the Scottish Rugby Union.  

The Club’s name omits the word "Rugby" as it predates the division between the Association and Rugby codes of football, which took place in the 1860s.

The Edinburgh Academicals' ground, at Raeburn Place, located a mere 10 minutes walk from Princes Street in the New Town area of Stockbridge, can truly be said to be the birthplace of international rugby. The first international match, between Scotland and England, took place at Raeburn Place in 1871; the first Calcutta Cup in 1879.

Raeburn Place hosted the second women’s Rugby World Cup Final in 1994 and eight of the IRB U21 World Championship’s group games between in 2004.

Key Dates


The first record of rugby being played at The Edinburgh Academy. "A game of a primitive kind...the most cruel hacking with iron-toed and heeled boots was allowed and suffered in the muddle (now maul)... the ball was composed of a raw bladder, fresh from the butcher's hands and enclosed in a leather case". "It was not a game of much elaboration," but it was vigorously engaged in and enjoyed.


Raeburn Place Ground acquired at a premium of £53.17s.4d


Raeburn Place Ground opens for play, in May of that year.


Start of EAFC's first full season of rugby. "We played twenty-a-side, and a scrum was a scrum indeed - fifteen pushing against fifteen in a tight maul that was often immovable for minutes. The steam rose from the pack like the smoke from a charcoal burner. It was much more fatiguing than the open game of today" - and that was written in 1881! Apparently, in wet conditions, nineteen players contested the scrummage, with one "back". That back was called the quarter back or half back.



"The parting of the ways between Rugger and Soccer". EAFC remains known as a "Football Club" as it started before this time.


First reference to "a maul with twenty-a-side, all playing forward with the exception of one full back and two half-backs."


Due to heightened interest in rugby in Scotland, pressure mounted to play an international match. Following a meeting on 5 December, representatives of four Scottish Clubs (EAFC, West of Scotland, Glasgow Academicals and the University of St Andrew's), wrote to B H Burns, the Secretary of Blackheath, "...For our own satisfaction, therefore, and with a view to really testing what Scotland can do against an English Team, we, representing the whole footballing interest of Scotland, hereby challenge any team selected from the whole of England, to play us a match, twenty a side Rugby rules. If entered into we can promise England a hearty welcome and a first rate match."


27 March - A then record crowd, estimated at about 4,000, attended Raeburn Place. Scotland won by the only "goal" (i.e. conversion), by W Cross. One anecdote is "J F Finlay had got away well with the ball and was sprinting towards the English line at hundred yards speed when Osborne, folding his arms across his chest, ran full tilt at him, after the fashion of a bull charging at a gate. Both were very big, heavy men, and the crash of the collision was tremendous, each reeling some yards and finally falling on his back. For a few seconds, players and spectators alike held their breath, fearing terrible results, but the two giants promptly resumed their places, apparently none the worse." James Finlay played in every International afterwards until his retirement in 1875. The legendary R W "Bulldog" Irvine played in that first match, at the age of 18, and appeared in every match for the next 10 years! Ninian Finlay also played in the Match, having just turned 17 - Scotland’s youngest cap. Internationals continued to be played at Raeburn Place until 1899.



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