The Scotland national rugby league team represent Scotland in international rugby league tournaments. The team is run under the auspices of the Scotland Rugby League, and are nicknamed The Bravehearts. Scotland are not regarded as a test nation. Following the breakup of the Great Britain team, Scottish players will now play solely for Scotland, apart from occasional Southern Hemisphere tours, for which the Great Britain team is expected to be revived.
Though its foundations may date back to as early as 1904, the team formally began in 1995, making them the newest international rugby league team in Great Britain. In their first match they played Ireland, losing narrowly. Since then, Ireland has became the team's main rival, the two teams having played each other many times in their short histories. Scotland have also played the United States, France and Russia amongst others, although they have never played their traditional rival England. In 2000 they qualified for their first ever World Cup, but failed to make an impact, losing all three of their group matches; however, their biggest losing margin was just 12 points. In 2008 they beat Wales over two matches to qualify for the 2008 World Cup.
Scotland play in a dark blue strip, similar to the nation's football and rugby union teams, with blue shirt, shorts and socks. A blue and white shield with a thistle, the Scottish emblem, is the team's badge. The shirt has rarely been significantly changed, although in the early days of the team, white was also used on the shirts.
Currently the team are ranked eleventh in the world, ahead of Samoa and Russia but behind neighbours Wales and Ireland. In the Rugby League European Federation, Scotland are ranked fourth behind Ireland but ahead of Lebanon. Englishman Steve McCormack is the teams coach, having coached since 2004, with Danny Brough captaining the side.
It could be argued that the foundations for the Scottish team began in 1904. On the 5 April 1904 England played an international match against the "Other Nationalities", a team comprising of Welshmen and Scotsmen, in Wigan. It was a 12-a-side game. Of the twelve players who played for the Other Nationalities team two of them were Scotsmen coming from Northern English clubs, including captain George Frater. After 80 minutes the Other Nationalities had beaten England 9-3. The team carried on for another two years, playing England in 1905, losing 26-11, and in 1906, drawing 3-3. The team was regularly revived, most notably in the early 1930s and in 1949.
Both Scotland Rugby League and Rugby League Ireland arranged a match on the 13 August, 1995 at the Royal Dublin Showground in Dublin, Ireland. However the Rugby Football League provided no financial support to either team. Luckily the Scotland team managed to get sponsored, and the money was used for the ferry crossing, but each individual player had to pay for basic accommodation. The Scotland squad was largely made up of players who had played in the student squads, but a few professionals were also included.
Just before the start of the match, after the Scottish team had spent a night at a youth hostel, the Irish Rugby Football Union prevented the teams from getting changed at the arranged Blackrook College. A new location was quickly found but it was half a mile away from the ground, and so the players had to walk that distance in their playing kit.
The match was looking like it would be scoreless at half-time until just before the break, centre Lee Child scored to put Ireland ahead. After the break Scotland hit back, Sean Cusack scoring Scotland's first ever try. Gavin Manclark then scored to propel Scotland into the lead. This did not last long though, as Leo Casey scored for Ireland in the 55th minute. Ireland then scored again, with Seamus McCallion going over. Four minutes later in the 69th minute, Scotland quickly scored two tries with Manclark and Shelford sealing the eight points. However this was not enough as Ketteridge had only successfully kicked three conversions compared to Ireland's Ian Devery who had kicked five. The match finished with Ireland winning 26-22, but Thompson for Scotland did win Man Of The Match.
The game started off well for Scotland, student James How scoring after just four minutes. And then minutes later Tait doubled the Bravehearts lead. But the Russia Bears dragged themselves back into the match, stand-off Victor Netchaev scoring first, and in the 30th minute Alexander Otradnov scored. Scotland were ahead though at half-time by four points because Russia had failed to convert their tries. In the second half it was all Scotland with only Andrey Scheglov's drop goal adding to the Bears points. On the other hand former Great Britain international Hugh Waddell, Ali Blee and Tait again all scored to seal a Scottish victory.
|Group One Table||W||L||F||A||PTS|
Scotlands two victories, coupled with the Cook Islands ability to beat the United States and Russia too, set up a deciding match in Castleford where the winner would reach the final. 3,000 people turned up to first see Thompson score a penalty after 15 minutes, but then Nigere Tariu slid voer to put the Islanders ahead. Just before the break however, Tait charged through three players to put Scotland back in the game. In the second half the Cook Islands, with several NRL players in their ranks, showed their strength as Sonny Shepherd scored a controversial try as Scottish players complained about the grounding. From a play the ball Shepherd went over again and in the 73rd minute Tariu scored a converted try. The Bravehearts did get a late consolation, skipper Tait going over for Scotlands last try before Islander Ali Davys sealed Scotlands fate with a drop-goal. The match finished Scotland 10-21 Cook Islands. In the final the Cook Islands beat Ireland 22-6 in Bury to win the tournament and secure a place in the next World Cup. Despite losing this final match the Scotland team and supporters thought that they had done very well considering how young the team was and how well their performances had been against Russia and the USA.
In 1996 the Rugby League International Federation rewarded Scotland with full international status which meant that they could start organising more fixtures and there was no longer a limit to the amount of professionals they could use. Before this status Scotland had been restricted to playing just three professionals in a match.
Referee Blows Time On Scots' History HopesScotland faced Ireland again in August of that year, and it was to be their first home game, with the match being played at the Firhill Stadium in Glasgow. After 5 minutes Alan Tait touched down with Matt Crowther converting. And then hooker Danny Russell and professional Darren Shaw have the Bravehearts a 14-0 lead at half-time. In the second half after 52 minutes Lee Hanlon scored Ireland's only try of the match, but Martin Ketteridge soon kicked a penalty for Scotland to extend the lead. In the closing stages of the match, after three Irish players had been sinbinned, Darrall Shaleford and Nick Mardon got themselves on the scoreboard with a try each. The match finished Scotland 26-6 Ireland. This is the only time in eight attempts that Scotland have beaten Ireland.
— Daily Mail headline.Scots In Rage At Bungling Whistler
— The Sun headline.The guys are all gutted about it and I am gutted for them. They had come back so well after a mediocre first half.
— Coach George Fairbairn after the match.An obvious error took place which changed the outcome of the game. The touch judge clearly indicated an infringement, but in a moment of excitement, the referee decided to go with his own instincts. The guy's distraught about it and realises that he has made a mistake
— Referees' director Greg McCallum.
A second match in Glasgow was held in July 1997 against France. The match was to end in controversy surrounding a late try and French referee Thierry Alibert. France had got of to a good start, with Freddie Banquet scoring before Danny Russell and Gary Christie scored a try each to send the Scots in front. However, with a few minutes to go before half-time, Jerome Guisset scored under the posts to give the French side a 12-10 lead after 40 minutes. After half-time France extended their lead through Fabien Devecchi but once again Scotland rallied together and Stuart McCarthy scored a crucial try, which was not converted. In the 70th minute Matt Crowther scored a try, and converted it, to put Scotland into a 20-18 lead. With just seconds remaining, a storm brewed when referee Alibert awarded a try to France's Arnauld Dulac. The Bravehearts and coaching staff said that the ball was knocked on, and therefore a scrum should have occurred. English touch judge Peter Walton signalled the knock-on but play continued. The match finished Scotland 20-22 France.
The Clash Of The Nations was a new tournament designed to make November 1998 a month of international league as Great Britain was touring the Southern Hemisphere. Scotland, France and Ireland would play two matches each and the winner of the two matches would be crowned champion. Scotland first faced France in Perpignan, the first match since they were controversially denied a victory in 1996. New coach Billy McGinty promised "the strongest ever Scotland squad" and just three players survived from Scotlands last international match. Debutant Jason Flowers put Scotland ahead, before France leveled the scores. But Danny Arnold once again put the Bravehearts ahead. Scotland excelled and Jason Raoch further strengthened Scotlands lead before France narrowed the lead to four points at half-time. In the 55th minute France scored to take the lead for the first time in the match. Roach got his second try, but France retaliated by scoring one of their own. Ten minutes from full-time France scored another try to confirm the two points. The match finished France 26-22 Scotland, with Lee Penny earning Man Of The Match award. France went onto beat Ireland in their second match, therefore clinching the trophy, however Scotland still played Ireland in Glasgow, the first meeting between these nations since 1995. The first-half was to prove uneventful, with Ireland scoring a single try to make the score 6-0 after 40 minutes. On the 46th minute Ireland drifted into a 10 point lead, but John Duffy kept the Bravehearts in the match with 20 minutes of the match remaining. Campbell got a try for Scotland but then Ireland scored another, a successfully scored a drop-goal to win the match 17-10. Colin Wilson was awarded the Man Of The Match award, and significantly became the first player from the Scottish Conference domestic league to represent Scotland. With two defeats Scotland finished bottom of the table.
With The Clash Of The Nations tournament over, the Celtic nations were to play each other once over October and November in a new competition. The matches were to coincide with the Great Britain versus Australia matches, in which Great Britain ended up being badly beaten. Dale Laughton was the only Scotman in the Great Britain team and so the Bravehearts didn't suffer from withdrawals as much as Ireland and Wales did. It is generally regarded that the Rugby Football League made the same mistakes as the 1998 tournament with matches being held on Friday nights and competing against both the football and rugby union seasons and consequently attendances were very low for the matches. The first of Scotlands matches was against Wales in which many of the best Welsh players were with Great Britain. Scotland took the lead through Danny Arnold but The Dragons quickly made the game level. Captain Danny Russell went over for Scotlands second try, but once again Wales hit back within minutes. Andrew Lambert scored just before half-time for The Bravehearts but the lead did not last long after the break with Wales scoring. However the Welsh were unable to reply to the next four tries, with Mike Wainwright and Matt Crowther each getting themselves onto the scoreboard and both Lambert and Arnold getting their second tries. A win or a draw would seal Scotlands place at the top of the table but Ireland mixture of Super League and local players were too good for Scotland. They raced into a 1ten point lead before Russell and Arnold, with Crowther converting one, allowed Scotland to claw their way back into the match. In the final quarter the Bravehearts fell apart, leaking in 21 points to lose the match.
In their first match after the World Cup campaign, Scotland faced France in the southern French town of Lezignan. Shaun McRae, citing his domestic coaching at Hull FC, departed as Scotland coach and Glasgow-born Billy McGinty took over the role with the then Swinton Lions coach and former Great Britain player Mike Gregory taking the role of assistant coach. The squad for this match included 13 survivors from the World Cup matches and three new players who were each earning their first international cap. The Scots got off to a great start, scoring three tries in the first 13 minutes and never looked back as they won the match 42-20. The heat in the French summer was thought to be a problem going into the match, but Scotland scored seven tries in total to record their first win against the French and arguably their best win yet in international competition. Two tries each were scored by Danny Arnold and Jason Flowers, and Matt Crowther converted all seven tries. Seven years later this victory is Scotland's biggest win and is still recognised as one of their best amongst supporters.
Scotland joined the prestigious European Nations Cup tournament in 2003, now being regarded as the seventh best national nation. This newly expanded competition, which also featured Russia and Ireland for the first time, as well as England A, France and Wales, was split into two groups with the winner of each group playing each other to become the competition's champions. Scotland were placed in a group with rivals Ireland and France. In May 2003, several months before the start of the tournament, Scotland Rugby League announced that Mike Gregory would become the new coach of the Scottish team, with David Lyon being appointed as his assistant. However it was later announced that due to Mike Gregorys commitments to Wigan Warriors, McGinty will continue to coach the side. Scotland's first match was against Ireland at Old Anniesland. The Scots lost by just two points, with Lee Penny, Danny Arnold and Jason Roach all scoring tries for Scotland, but John Duffy had missed one of his crucial four goals. Scotland were 12-2 up after 21 minutes and were level at half-time, but Irish substitute Karl Fitzpatrick gave the Wolfhounds the win in the last few minutes of the match. With France then beating Ireland in Dublin, Scotland now knew that they could clinch first place. The match held in Narbonne, between France and Scotland turned out to be closely fought. However the Scots came out on top with an Andrew Henderson try and two Oliver Wilkes goals sealing the victory by two points. This scoreline meant that all three teams had finished on two points, but it was France, with the better points difference, that went on to face England in the final.
Before the first match, coach Steve McCormack had time with the players in training camps in Huddersfield and Swansea, and admitted that he was not threatened by the likes of Super League giants Iestyn Harris and Lee Briers in the Welsh team. This is despite many fans and journalists favouring the Dragons to easily win. McCormack later named his squad for the match, which included a mixture of Super League, National League and Rugby League Conference players. Five of them would be making their debut, but long-serving player Ian Henderson, who had played in every Scottish match since 2001, was unable to play for in this match.
Scotland started well in Bridgend with Wade Liddell giving the Bravehearts the lead after just 8 minutes. This try was converted by Gareth Morton. But things got bad as Wales pulled a try back through Richard Johnson, and then Danny Brough was sinbinned for dissent on 26 minutes. In the next ten minutes a Wales team minus Iestyn Harris, who failed a fitness test prior to the match, capitalised on Scotlands shortfall and scored two tries to create a 14-6 lead going into half-time. However after the break the Scots immediately got back into the match, Danny Brough singlehandedly scoring a try after 70 seconds of the interval, and Jamie Benn a little later leeching on to a grubber kick. Mick Nanyn missed both conversions and so the scores were tied. On the 67th minute Scotland went in front, Nanyn converting his own try. And to seal a 21-14 victory Danny Brough scored a drop-goal. He would later get Man Of The Match award.
To prepare for the second qualification match, Scotland travelled to Perpignan to play test nation France. Scotland rested several key players, like Danny Brough and Ian Henderson, and gave caps to six debut players. It turned out to be a bad decision as Scotland suffered their heaviest defeat in their history. After 15 minutes Scotland were trailing 18-0, and despite tries from Benn, Nanyn and Paterson, plus two successful conversions from Nanyn, France were always well ahead. The match finished France 46-16 Scotland.
Before the second qualification match in Glasgow, Wales were still confident of victory with the Dragons assistant coach Kevin Ellis saying that his Welsh team had some fantastic players, and that it was the best since Wales golden era of 1991-95. But Scotland had the advantage going into the match, for a win or draw or even a small loss would guarantee them a place in the cup. Before the match Danny Brough was announced as captain before the match, thus earning his sixth cap too.
In the first half of the match Wales were on top, with Scotland only managing to score four points overall, two penalties by Danny Brough. Richard Fletcher had been carried off after an aerial collision, which caused the game to be stopped for six minutes. At half time the score was 14-4 in favour of the Dragons, meaning Scotland would not qualify. In the 52nd minute Ben Fisher darted over the line to score Scotlands first try. Importantly this was converted by Danny Brough. And with seven minutes remaining Jamie Benn latched onto Mick Nanyn's speculative pass to score Scotlands second try, which Brough successfully converted. Wales scored late on but it was not enough. The match finished Scotland 16-18 Wales, with an aggregate score of Scotland 37-32, and Mick Nanyn received Man Of The Match award.
On the 9 July, 2008, Scotland Rugby League announced that Steve McCormack had signed a 12 month deal to continue his job as head coach of the Scotland team. Danny Brough will continue to skipper the team into the World Cup, providing he stays fit.
In early 2008 Scotland Rugby League announced that they had secured a five-figure sponsorship deal with The Co-operative which would see the world's largest consumer-owned businesses logo on the front of the shirts for the 2008 World Cup and for all 2009 matches too.
A new shirt has recently been designed for the World Cup and it is expected that fans will be able to buy it sometime in the Summer 2008. Instead of the Great Britain badge on the right, there will be the World Cup logo, similar to each of the ten teams shirts. The shirt is made by German sportswear company Puma.
The emblem of the Scotland team is the thistle, which is on the team's badge in a crest. The thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth and is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle a high chivalric order of Scotland. There is also a well-known Scottish legend that in Medieval times a Viking, wanting to invade Scotland, stood on a thistle and suddenly yelped in pain, alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle. The thistle is used on the badges of many national and domestic sports teams.
|1||Chris Armit||Full back||Canterbury Bulldogs|
|2||Michael Robertson||Right Wing||Manly Sea Eagles|
|3||Lee Paterson||Right Centre||Widnes Vikings|
|4||Mick Nanyn||Left Centre||Oldham Roughyeds|
|5||Dean Colton||Left Wing||Doncaster RLFC|
|6||John Duffy||Stand off||Widnes Vikings|
|7||Danny Brough C||Half back||Wakefield Wildcats|
|8||Jack Howieson||Prop||Sheffield Eagles|
|9||Ian Henderson||Hooker||New Zealand Warriors|
|10||Iain Morrison||Prop||Widnes Vikings|
|11||Scott Logan||Second Row||Canberra Raiders|
|12||Duncan MacGillivray||Second Row||Wakefield Wildcats|
|13||Gareth Morton||Loose forward||Widnes Vikings|
|14||Ben Fisher||Hooker||Hull KR|
|15||Paul Jackson||Prop||Huddersfield Giants|
|16||Neil Lowe||Second Row||Keighley Cougars|
|17||Kevin Henderson||Second Row||Wakefield Wildcats|
|18||Oliver Wilkes||Prop||Wakefield Wildcats|
|19||Paddy Coupar||Stand off||Edinburgh Eagles|
|20||Andrew Henderson||Hooker||Castleford Tigers|
|21||Jon Steel||Wing||Hull KR|
|22||Dave McConnell||Hooker||Leigh Centurions|
|23||Gavin Cowan||Centre||Brisbane Easts|
|24||Wade Liddell||Full back||Brisbane Easts|
Since 2004, the Scottish management team have given the Dave Valentine Award to their player of the year. The award uses a voting system and is given to the player in early January.
|2005||Jon Steel||Hull KR|
|2007||Duncan MacGillivray||Wakefield Trinity Wildcats|
Located in Maryhill, in north west Glasgow, Firhill Stadium was used on five occasions and was the first home of Scottish rugby league. The ground was built in 1909 and is the home for football club Partick Thistle. It is also now being used by Glasgow Warriors rugby union team. The stadium can hold nearly 11,000 although the highest attendance for a rugby league match was just over 2,000. The first match held at Firhill was against Ireland on the 6 August, 1996. One game was played in 1997, 1998 and 1999, before Scotland hosted the New Zealand Maori team in their opening World Cup match on the 29 October 2000. This was the last time that the Bravehearts played at Firhill.
For their opening European Nations Cup match against Ireland on the 26 October 2003, the Bravehearts returned to Glasgow and to Old Anniesland. They have stayed their ever since. Old Anniesland is home to Glasgow Hawks rugby union club, one of the best Scottish amateur union sides, and houses one stand, gym facilities and an astroturfed training pitch. Apart from the three European Nations Cup matches Old Anniesland has also hosted a World Cup qualifying matches on the 4 November 2007. This match was televised live on Sky Sports and saw Scotland qualify for the 2008 World Cup.
Scotland have only competed in one World Cup, in the 2000 tournament held in the United Kingdom and France. Scotland were drawn in Group 4, with Ireland, Samoa and New Zealand Maori. It was to be the tougest group in the competition, with many of the matches being very close. Scotland finished bottom of the group after losing 17-16 to New Zealand Maori, 18-6 to Ireland and 20-12 to Samoa. Before the 2000 tournament, except for in 1975 and 1995, Scotland were represented at the World Cup by Great Britain with several Scottish players making the team over the years. Scotland will compete in their second World Cup, the 2008 competition in Australia after successfully qualifying.
Scotland joined the cup in 2003, as one of the three new nations to make the competition a six team tournament split into two groups. Their group consisted of Ireland, who beat them 24-22, and France who Scotland beat 8-6. However it was France that went through to the final, despite each team winning one match, because of their better points difference. In 2004 they contested the cup again, being put into a group with Ireland and Wales. Scotland beat Wales in the first match, but once again lost to Ireland, suffering their heaviest ever defeat. For the third and last time Scotland played in the 2005 competition and were again placed with Celtic rivals Wales and Ireland. This time they lost both of their games to finish bottom of the group. The European Nations Cup has not been placed since 2005.
As France proved that they were no longer strong enough for England, losing 73-6 in Gateshead, the European Nations Cup once again was brought to an end. Instead France, Ireland and Scotland competed in a new tournament which would make November 1998 a month of international rugby league, as Great Britain and New Zealand would be playing Test matches. However to avoid rugby union internationals the Rugby Football League organised the matches at night, which meant that the matches themselves received poor media coverage, especially in Scotland and Ireland, and small crowds, again particularly in Scotland and Ireland. France won the only tournament, it being axed after just one year, Scotland finished last losing against both teams.
With the Clash Of The Nations matches not doing well off the pitch, the RFL organised a new round-robin tournament featuring Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The three international matches coincided with Great Britain test matches in Australia, which meant that Wales and Ireland suffered heavy withdrawals and Scotland lost Dale Laughton. Matches were played on Friday nights and competed against rugby union and football domestic seasons that were in full-swing. The tournament produced record low attendance figures in the three nations histories and so the competition was quickly axed.
|George Fairbairn|| ||13 August 1995 - 9 July 1997||6||3||0||3||50%|
|Billy McGinty|| ||11 November 1998 - 18 November 1998||2||0||0||2||0%|
|Shaun McRae|| ||22 October 1999 - 5 November 2000||5||1||0||4||20%|
|Billy McGinty|| ||3 July 2001 - 9 November 2003||3||2||0||1||66%|
|Steve McCormack|| ||24 October 2004 - Present||7||2||0||5||28.6%|
Rugby League is not a hugely popular sport in Scotland, with the country never having had a professional club. This means that the national team is nowhere near as well supported as the countries football or rugby union teams. Usually matches get between 1,000 to 2,000 supporters, and those figures haven't really increased or decreased since the teams first home international in 1996. Participation in rugby league has increased though, with a Scottish division in the Rugby League Conference with seven teams, including four in the Glasgow/West Scotland area, having formed in 2006. But, unlike in England, rugby league is not one of the ten most played sports in Scotland amongst adults. Junior development has been much more rapid, with several Conference teams having junior squads as well as other clubs who don't run an open-age squad having various junior squads. An estimated 2,500 children play rugby league in Scotland, with that figure growing to 12,500 when you add the amount of children who play the sport in various school programmes. In terms of media coverage, apart from Challenge Cup matches rugby league is not shown on Scottish terrestrial television and no matches are usually broadcast on radio. However Scotland international matches usually get reported in national newspapers like The Scotsman and sometimes in Scottish editions of London based newspapers.
|Most Caps||Top Point Scorer||Top Try Scorer||Top Goal Scorer|
|Darren Shaw||12||Matt Crowther||52||Danny Arnold||7||Matt Crowther||20|
|Nathan Graham||10||Danny Brough||37||Darrall Shelford||5||Danny Brough||12|
|Danny Arnold||9||Danny Arnold||32||Alan Tait||5||Graeme Thompson||7|
|Matt Crowther||8||Darrall Shelford||20||Danny Russell||4||Martin Ketteridge||5|
|Dave McConnell||8||Alan Tait||20||-||-||Gareth Morton||5|
|Wayne McDonald||8||Graeme Thompson||18||-||-||-||-|
|Jason Roach||8||Danny Russell||16||-||-||-||-|
In 13 years of international rugby league Scotland have played 23 matches, winning 34% of them. Their most regular opponent has been Ireland, who similarly starting playing Rugby League in the mid-1990s. However in eight matches, four of them being played in Scotland, the Scots have only managed to beat the Wolfhounds once - a 26-6 victory in 1996 in Glasgow. They fare better against France and Wales though, the only other Northern Hemisphere opponents that they have faced more than once. Scotland have never beaten any team from the Southern Hemisphere. They have also yet to score 50 points in one match, but have also never conceded 50 points in one match. And they have yet to draw a match.
|Year||Round||Position||Won||Drawn||Lost||Pts Scored||Pts Against|
|Year||Opponents||Position||Won||Drawn||Lost||Pts Scored||Pts Against|
The Scotland A national rugby league team is made up of amateur players, who either play in the Rugby League Conference or university leagues. The Scotland team is usually made up of some players who play in the Scottish division of the RLC, but also of players who play in the English or Welsh divisions. Napier University has also played a huge part in the team, with many Napier students having played in the side over the years. The team regularly compete against England, Wales and Ireland, playing them annually in the Home Nations Championship. Since the creation of this tournament, in 2002, Scotland have never won the league although have finished second on two occasions in 2004 and 2005. Recently the Scotland team have toured Holland, Italy and Serbia, helping expand rugby league in those country by playing domestic and national sides. Angus McNab currently coaches the side, whilst Andrew Todd of Edinburgh Eagles is captain.