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Scotland boasts one of the longest and proudest rugby traditions, having played in the first international against England in 1871. It can look back with honor on nearly 150-years of outstanding competition. But, since 1995 when professionalism began, its rugby has slipped from first to second tier. Currently, Scotland stands eighth in the IRB World rankings, behind New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Wales, Ireland, and France but its record remains poor against these more powerful XVs both in home and away tests, RWC contests, and the annual Six Nation championships.
In net, it has lagged behind in developing home-grown players that can compete at the highest, world-level standards. The crux of the Scottish decline is, that although it has embraced the professional model, its two top-class pro Scottish feeder clubs – Glasgow Warriors and Edinburg Rugby - have underperformed against their Irish, English, French, and Welsh club counterparts. These clubs have not finished as a finalist either in the top club championship Heineken Cup, or in the secondary championship, the European Challenge Cup.
Heineken Cup, European club championship (Finalists)
French Clubs 17
English Clubs 11
Irish Clubs 9
Welsh Clubs 1
The European Challenge Cup (Finalists)
French Clubs 18
English Clubs 15
Welsh Clubs 2
Irish Clubs 1
Further, in the twelve-team Celtic League (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy), the two Scottish clubs have been runners-up only twice in 13-seasons.
Celtic/Pro League (First or Second Place)
Irish Clubs 16 (Munster, Leinster, Ulster, Connacht)
Welsh Clubs 8 (Newport, Cardiff, Ospreys, Scarlets)
Scottish Clubs 2 (Glasgow, Edinburg)
Scotland last won a Five Nations Cup in 1999 (Italy joined the year after), but, since that time, it has the second worst record in Six Nations Cup play. With 85 tries, it is the lowest try scoring nation, four behind Italy with 89. Calcutta Cup since 1995: England 17 – Scotland 3.
Pundits claim that the Scottish professional model is underfunded, and only more money, and perhaps a different eight or ten team national Premiereship League, can change the current mediocre state of Scottish rugby.