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The Calcutta version of Calcutta Cup

The Calcutta version of Calcutta Cup

Retracing the history of Rugby in Calcutta (Kolkata)

Calcutta Cup Trophy

Calcutta Cup (Calcutta Version) Trophy

All though it may sound strange but Calcutta Cup is a trophy awarded , since 1879, to the winner of the rugby match played between England and Scotland, played alternatively in London and Edinburgh.

Although not played in Calcutta, the Calcutta Cup has a Calcutta origin. It was in 1872 the first ever rugby match took place in Calcutta and was played by a group of rugby enthusiast of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Soon Calcutta caught on with the rugby enthusiasm, which led to the formation of the first Rugby club in India in 1874 and was named Calcutta Football Club. In order to attract more players the club offered free drinks to the rugby players. But with the mounting cost the idea was soon dropped, which resulted in the drop in the numbers of players.

Sadly within four years the Calcutta Football Club decided to wind up and a strange decision was made with the remaining club funds.

The entire remaining funds of the club were withdrawn in the form of silver coins which were melted and re-casted into a beautiful trophy, the Calcutta Cup.

Decoration on Calcutta Cup

Decoration on Calcutta Cup

The trophy was presented to the Rugby Union in England, who decided to use it for the  annual rugby match between England and Scotland. Ever since 1879 the Calcutta Cup is still being used.

Rugby 7s, Sailen Manna Stadium, Howrah

Rugby 7s, Sailen Manna Stadium, Howrah

The 18 inch Calcutta Cup, made of pure silver is a example of master craftsmanship.

Its three handles are in the shape of hooded cobras and the lid is crowned with an elephant. The body contains intricate floral designs (Wikipedia photo of Calcutta Cup).

The base of the Calcutta Cup bares the inscription “The Calcutta Cup presented to the Rugby Football Union by the Calcutta Football Club as an international challenge cup to be played for annually by England and Scotland 1878.

Training Session of Jungle Crows, Calcutta Maidan

Training Session of Jungle Crows, Calcutta Maidan

The closure of the Calcutta Football Club was not enough to dampen the spirit of rugby in Calcutta. Calcutta Cricket and Football club (CCFC) came to the rescue. Founded in 1792 CCFC, which happens to be the oldest existing sporting club in the country, introduced the Calcutta version of the Calcutta Cup in 1881.

Ever since 1881 the rugby clubs of Calcutta battle it out for the Calcutta version of the Calcutta Cup. Like its former counterpart the Calcutta version of the Calcutta Cup is also an amazing work of art. The cup is decorated with Calcutta scenes dating back to the late nineteenth century, with pilgrims marching towards the Kalighat Temple and large ships sailing down the Hooghly.

Action between CCFC and Jungle Crows, Calcutta Cup Final 2014

Action between CCFC and Jungle Crows, Calcutta Cup Final 2014

Apart from the Calcutta Cup the CCFC also hosts the Georgiadi Cup, a rugby 7s tournament (7 sided rugby, traditional rugby is 15 side).

Action at Calcutta Cup 2014

Action at Calcutta Cup 2014

Although rugby is being played in Calcutta for almost a century and half it has been restricted to the elite class and a few minority communities like the Armenians and the Anglo Indians.

La Martiniere Old Boys (LMOB) and Kolkata Police also have a rich rugby tradition, but sadly rugby has never been able to reach the mainstream Calcuttan.

Jungle Crows, the latest addition in the Calcutta Rugby map, is all set to change the course of Rugby in Calcutta.

Found in 2004 the Jungle Crow, lead by Paul Walsh, started introducing the sport of rugby to the not so privilege sections of Calcutta society.

Calcutta Cup Final 2014

Calcutta Cup Final 2014

The Jungle Crows were soon able to overcome their initial strugle and their efforts were soon being rewarded.

They won both the Calcutta Cup and the Georgiadi Cup on several occasion and several of their club players made it to the Indian national team.

The reach of Jungle crows have spread beyonds the limits of Calcutta and regular rugby camps are held in different parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and even in other parts of the country.

Also the Jungle Crows women training program have received great success with many of the ladies donning national colours.

Calcutta Cricket and Football Club, Winners Calcutta Cup 2014

Calcutta Cricket and Football Club, Winners Calcutta Cup 2014

In 2014 Jungle Crows made it to the final of the Calcutta Cup, but lost narrowly (21 – 24) to the host Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC).

But in spite of the defeat the jungle Crows will keep up the spirit of Calcutta Rugby and hope they will soon turn rugby into a mainstream sport of Calcutta.

 Special Thanks:

  • Paul Walsh and the entire Jungle Crow family for introducing me into the world of rugby. The Jungle Crow Website also provided valuable information.
  • Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC) for allowing me to photograph the Calcutta Cup 2014 and helping me with all sorts of information
  • To all the rugby players and enthusiasts from Calcutta
  1. July 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    A very informative post. Thanks

  2. chintu vij
    June 3, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    Thank you Rangan for spreading good for rugby

    • June 11, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      Thanks Chintu, all the best Calcutta Cup 2015

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