You are here

In India, icon meets icon as the William Webb Ellis Trophy is photographed with the Taj Mahal in the background.  The trophy continues on its worldwide journey a year and a few months before the beginning of the Rugby World Cup in Japan 2019. (Tickets on sale.)

Like other parts of the 19th-Century, sun-never-setting on the British Empire, rugby was introduced into India in the early 1870s. The first recorded match is listed as on Christmas Day 1874 when local Englishmen played against a combined squad of Irish, Welsh, and Scottish nationals in Calcutta. This match was followed with the beginning of the Calcutta F.C., which lasted a few years, and ended with the closing of the open bar. Of note, the first rugby goal posts were made of teak.

The climate was the main reason for the lack of sustaining rugby interest among the ex-Pats in the country. The weather served ideal for cricket and tennis. The former remains the country's national sport today. The Twenty Twenty version of one day cricket play has proved to be a boon to the sport globally, and a television bonanza.

By 1877, interest waned, and rugby disappeared. In one final gesture the Calcutta F. C. decided to present a ceremonial trophy to the Rugby Football Union in England, then, the governing authority on the sport. The club collected silver rupees, which were melted into the Calcutta Cup. Made in India by craftsmen, it is fashioned with king cobras and elephants.

The Calcutta Cup became the annual trophy between England and Scotland.

Today in India, there is the beginning of a rugby revival. The Indian RFU numbers 24,000 players with 7,000 female in that total. The national side plays in the Division Three of the Asian Five Nations event. India has recorded an 11-25-1 Test Match history.