Rugby league is comparatively minor sport in Scotland, dwarfed by the popularity of football, and to a lesser extent sports such as rugby union, curling and shinty.

History

The history of rugby league in Scotland goes back to 1909 when the touring Australian team drew 17 all with England at Celtic Park, Glasgow. A further match against the Australians followed at Tynecastle, Edinburgh in 1911, again an 11 all tie. After this the Rugby Football League largely gave up on expansion north of the border.

Nonetheless, a number of Scottish rugby union players, particularly from the Border region, moved south to play for English clubs. The numbers were not nearly so great as with the Welsh players (see Rugby league in Wales), and a Scottish national team was never seriously considered, though Scots did feature for Other Nationalities and were eligible for Great Britain .

Probably the most famous figure in Scottish rugby league during this period was Dave Valentine, who captained Great Britain to World Cup victory in 1954.

In 1989 a Scotland students side was formed at the University of Aberdeen, and this proved to be the catalyst for the formation of a number of other clubs. The national team first played in 1995, and a domestic league followed in 1997.

In 2000 and 2002 the Challenge Cup Final was held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, the home of the Scottish Rugby Union. in 2000 Bradford Bulls defeated Leeds Rhinos 24-18, and in 2002 Wigan Warriors beat St. Helens 21-12. Both ties were played in front of over 60,000 spectators, by far the biggest rugby league events ever held in Scotland.

Governing body

Technically, the governing body for the sport in Scotland is the Rugby Football League, whose remit covers the United Kingdom as a whole. In recent years the RFL have established a semi-autonomous section for Scotland, the Scotland Rugby League.

Competitions

The Scotland Rugby League comprises six teams: Paisley Hurricanes, Moray Eels (Lossiemouth), Fife Lions, Edinburgh Eagles, Glasgow Bulls and Easterhouse Panthers.

Plans to expand to Scotland with a Glasgow team in 2002 on the Cardiff Demons model failed to materialise.

In 2006 the competition will come under the organisational umbrella of the Rugby League Conference with a view to the Scottish domestic league becoming a full division of the Conference in the 2007 season.

Popularity

Rugby league is a growing sport in Scotland, attracting growing interest. In addition to the six clubs in the Scottish conference there are a small number of other clubs. The majority of the clubs are based in and around Glasgow, and Glasgow City Council provide funding for junior teams.

Media

There are two weekly rugby league newspapers Rugby Leaguer & League Express and League Weekly and two monthly magazines, Rugby League World and Thirteen Magazine. These cover the sport world-wide and across the UK. These publications are usually only available by subscription in Scotland.

BBC Sport own the rights to broadcast a highlights package called the Super League Show which was first broadcast in Scotland in 2008. Prior to this it had only been broadcast in the North of England.[1]. Rugby League Raw is not broadcast in Scotland despite the BBC owning the rights to do so. The BBC covers the Challenge Cup from the rounds in which the top clubs enter.

BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Five Live Sports Extra carry commentary from a selection of Super League matches each week,.

Sky has the rights to show live Super League games; one or two live matches are broadcast often fronted by Mike Stephenson and Eddie Hemmings. Sky also hold the rights to show the Rugby League Tri-Nations live, whilst highlights are shown on BBC Sport. Australia's National Rugby League and State of Origin were shown until 2005-06 season when Setanta Sports outbid Sky for the rights.

Manchester based Channel M show some National League and amateur rugby on their Code XIII programme.

The national team

Main article: Scotland national rugby league team

There are two Scottish teams selected: Scotland and Scotland A. The Scotland team is predominantly second-generation professional players, born and bred in England, whereas the Scotland A team (nicknamed "the Bravehearts") is selected from the domestic Scottish competition.

Scotland has participated in the Emerging Nations Cup (1995), World Cup (2000) and European Nations Cup (since 2003) competitions.

Since 2002, Scotland A has participated in the Amateur Four Nations competition and toured Italy, the Netherlands and Serbia.

By far the most promising player in Scotland right now has to be Scott MacGilvray (Fife Lions). He has been tipped to gain a full Scotland cap this year after spending a month in Australia developing his game.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Super League Show to get repeat". BBC Sport. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-02-11.