Scotland national rugby league team

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Badge of Scotland team
Nickname The Bravehearts
Governing body Scotland Rugby League
Region Europe
Head coach Steve McCormack
Captain Danny Brough
Most caps Andrew Henderson (23)[1]
Top try-scorer Mick Nanyn (9)[1]
Top point-scorer Danny Brough (135)[1]
RLIF ranking 8th
First international
 Ireland 26–22 Scotland 
(Dublin, Ireland; 13 August 1995)
Biggest win
 Italy 0–104 Scotland 
(Padova, Italy; 17 October 2009)
Biggest defeat
 Ireland 43–10 Scotland 
(Dublin, Ireland; 29 October 2004)
World Cup
Appearances 3 (first time in 2000)
Best result Quarter Finals, 2013

The Scotland national rugby league team represent Scotland in international rugby league football tournaments.[2] and are nicknamed The Bravehearts.[3] Scotland are not regarded as a test nation.[4] Following the break-up of the Great Britain team in 2008,[5] Scottish players play solely for Scotland, apart from occasional Southern Hemisphere tours, for which the Great Britain team is expected to be revived.[6]

Though its foundations may date back to as early as 1904, the team formally began in 1995,[3] making them the newest international rugby league team in Great Britain. In their first match they played Ireland, losing narrowly. Since then, Ireland has become 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;[7] however, their biggest losing margin was just 12 points.[8] In 2008 they beat Wales over two matches to qualify for the 2008 World Cup.[9]

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.[10]

As of 1 December 2014, the team is ranked eighth in the world,[11] ahead of Wales but behind the other home nations neighbours England and Ireland.[11] In the Rugby League European Federation, Scotland are ranked fourth behind Ireland.[11] Englishman Steve McCormack is the team's coach,[12] having coached since 2004,[13] with Danny Brough captaining the side.[14]



It could be argued that the foundations for the Scottish team began in 1904. On 5 April 1904 England played an international match against the "Other Nationalities", a team of Welshmen and Scotsmen, in Wigan.[15][16] 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 Union clubs, including captain George Frater.[15] After 80 minutes the Other Nationalities had beaten England 9–3.[15] The team carried on for another two years, playing England in 1905, losing 26–11, and in 1906, drawing 3–3.[17] The team was regularly revived, most notably in the early 1930s and in 1949.[18]


The Wolfhounds

Both Scotland and Ireland had been developing rugby league in their respective nations for several years. This was especially true at student level, with a Scotland student team having played regularly since 1987[19] and having competed in the 1992 Students World Cup.[20] But it was decided that the time was right for an open-age national team to attempt to be entered into an Emerging Nations Tournament that would coincide with the 1995 World Cup, that the Rugby League International Federation had recently announced.

Both Scotland Rugby League and Rugby League Ireland arranged a match on 13 August 1995 at the Royal Dublin Showground in Dublin, Ireland. However the Rugby Football League provided no financial support to either team.[21] 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.[21] 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.[22] 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 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.[22]

1995 Emerging Nations tournament

After this international Scotland were allowed to take place in the Emerging Nations Tournament, which was to be held in England. On 16 October 1995 at Featherstone they faced Russia, who had been playing international rugby league since 1991, in their opening game in Group A. Coached by former Great Britain and England (despite the fact he was Scottish) player, George Fairbairn,[23] who put together a team of former Scotland students, rugby union players, and a few league professionals including Alan Tait,[24] who played for Leeds, and who would captain the side.[25] The whole of the Scotland team had hired kilts to be worn pre-match.[26]

The game started off well for Scotland, student James How scoring after just four minutes.[27] And then minutes later Tait doubled the Bravehearts lead.[27] But the Russia Bears dragged themselves back into the match, stand-off Victor Netchaev scoring first, and in the 30th minute Alexander Otradnov scored.[27] Scotland were ahead though at half-time by four points because Russia had failed to convert their tries.[27] In the second half it was all Scotland with only Andrey Scheglov's drop goal adding to the Bears points.[27] On the other hand, former Great Britain international Hugh Waddell, Ali Blee and Tait again all scored to seal a Scottish victory.[28]

Group One Table W L F A PTS
Cook Islands 3 0 143 36 6
Scotland 2 1 82 46 4
Russia 1 2 57 118 2
United States 0 3 48 130 0

Scotland's second match was against the United States in Northampton, traditionally a rugby union city.[29] The Tomahawks were made up of AMNRL players but Scotland took a while to get going. In the twelfth minute winger Rory Lewis unexpected put America ahead, which caused The Bravehearts to start playing well for the remainder of the first half, Scotland eventually going into the second half leading three tries to one. Graeme Thompson had kicked a penalty very early on in the game, and then after the America try added another four points. McAlister, who had missed the conversion, set up Ketteridge and Smith for Scotland's second and third tries respectively. The Bravehearts extended their lead in the second half, Shelford going over and then David Niu, who could have played for Scotland because of his Dunfermline born mother, got one back for the States. But Scotland put a victory beyond doubt with Alan Tait setting up Shelford twice for his hat-trick. Late in the game Niu and Steve Tait scored for the United States and Scotland respectively to end the match 38–16 in Scotland's favour.[28]

Scotland's two victories, coupled with the Cook Islands ability to beat the United States and Russia too,[30][31] 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 over 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 Scotland's last try before Islander Ali Davys sealed Scotland's fate with a drop-goal. The match finished Scotland 10–21 Cook Islands.[28] 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.[28][32] 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.

Glasgow matches

In 1996 the Rugby League International Federation rewarded Scotland with full international status[33] which meant that they could start organising more fixtures and there was no longer a limit to the number of professionals they could use.[34] Before this status Scotland had been restricted to playing just three professionals in a match.[35]

Referee Blows Time On Scots' History Hopes

Daily Mail headline.[36]

Scots In Rage At Bungling Whistler

The Sun headline.[36]

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.[37]

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.[36]

Scotland 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 gave 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 sin-binned, Darrall Shaleford and Nick Mardon got themselves on the scoreboard with a try each. The match finished Scotland 26–6 Ireland.[38] This is the only time in eight attempts that Scotland have beaten Ireland.

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 off 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.[39] English touch judge Peter Walton signalled the knock-on but play continued. The match finished Scotland 20–22 France.[40]

Clash of the Nations

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 Scotland's last international match.[41] Débutant Jason Flowers put Scotland ahead, before France levelled the scores. But Danny Arnold once again put the Bravehearts ahead. Scotland excelled and Jason Roach further strengthened Scotland's 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.[42] 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. Logan Campbell got a try for Scotland but then Ireland scored another, 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 from the tournament Scotland finished bottom of the table.[43]

Triangular Challenge

England have competed in twenty-six European Nations Cups, the first in 1935. In the past the tournament has been axed and revived many times, and it was stopped for six years because of the Second World War. From 1935 to 1949 (minus the war years) England played France and Wales annually, and won the tournament in 1935, 1946, 1947 and 1948. From 1950 to 1956 an Other Nationalities team were added as the fourth team in the competition (except in 1956 when Wales did not field a team). During those years England won in 1950 and 1954. Since then the tournament has run for some seasons, but never for more than five years at a time. But from 1970 to 1996 England won it six out of a possible nine times. In 2003 the tournament was revived and England comfortably won, beating her old rivals plus Scotland, Ireland and Russia. England beat the same opponents to win the cup again in 2004. This was the last time England competed, they were replaced by Georgia. The cup ran for just one more year before it was axed again. It has not since returned. In total England have won the cup fourteen times.

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.[44] 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.[44] The first of Scotland's 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 Scotland's 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.[45] A win or a draw would seal Scotland's 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.[46]


2000 World Cup

Scotland were placed in Group 4 in the 16-team Rugby League World Cup for 2000, which was held in the United Kingdom and France.[47] This meant that they would face Ireland, Samoa and New Zealand Maori, with one match being played at Glasgow, and one match being played in Edinburgh. Out of the four teams, two would then qualify for the Quarter Finals, playing the top teams from other groups.[48] The Scots World Cup campaign was criticised though, before the tournament was even started when the 24-man squad was named, as not one of the players were born in Scotland.[49]

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,[50] 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.[51][52] 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.[53] 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.[54] 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.[55] 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.

European Cup

Scotland joined the prestigious European Nations Cup tournament in 2003, now being regarded as the seventh best national nation.[56] This newly expanded competition, which also featured Russia and Ireland for the first time,[57] 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.[58] However it was later announced that due to Mike Gregorys commitments to Wigan Warriors, McGinty will continue to coach the side.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61] 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.[62] 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.[63]

The 2004 competition followed the same plan but this time the Bravehearts were with Ireland and Wales. These two teams had already played each other a week earlier with the result and Irish victory.[64] Both sides scored four tries, but it was the kicking of Danny Brough that helped Scotland to beat the Dragons by 30 points to 22 in Glasgow.[65] The match drew over a thousand spectators and was the first time Scotland had won at home for five years.[66][67] Just five days later though, the team had to play their second game against the Irish Wolfhounds in Ireland. Despite a try from Spencer Miller and three successful kicks by Danny Brough, the Irish ran out easy winners with the match ending 43–10 and thus ending Scotlands campaign in the cup.[68][69]

2008 World Cup Qualifying

On 17 May 2006 Scotland received word that they would play two matches against Wales for a place in the 2008 World Cup.[70] The two matches of Group 1 (there were two European groups) would be contested in late 2006 and 2007, with the first being in Bridgend and the second being in Glasgow.[71]

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.[72] This is despite many fans and journalists favouring the Dragons to easily win.[73] McCormack later named his squad for the match, which included a mixture of Super League, National League and Rugby League Conference players.[74] Five of them would be making their début, but long-serving player Ian Henderson, who had played in every Scottish match since 2001, was unable to play for in this match.[74]

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,[75] capitalised on Scotland's shortfall and scored two tries to create a 14–6 lead going into half-time.[76] 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.[77] He would later get Man of the Match award.[78]

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,[79] and gave caps to six début players.[80][81] 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,[82] 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.[83]

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.[84] 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.[85]

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.[86] At half time the score was 14–4 in favour of the Dragons, meaning Scotland would not qualify.[87] In the 52nd minute Ben Fisher darted over the line to score Scotland's first try. Importantly this was converted by Danny Brough.[88] And with seven minutes remaining Jamie Benn latched onto Mick Nanyn's speculative pass to score Scotland's second try,[89] which Brough converted. Wales scored late on but it was not enough. The match finished Scotland 16–18 Wales,[90] with an aggregate score of Scotland 37–32,[91] and Mick Nanyn received Man of the Match award.[92]

2008 World Cup

On 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.[93][94][95] Danny Brough will continue to skipper the team into the World Cup, providing he stays fit.[96] Except for Edinburgh Eagles stand-off Paddy Couper, all of the Scottish team's players were selected under the grandparent rule.[97] In the group stage they made history as they finally won a game and it was against Fiji who were demolishing opponents courtesy of superstars such as Jarryd Hayne.[98] But that is as far as they finished in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup because their points differential was worse than Fiji's and France who were also in their group and were demolished by them in their first game of the 2008 campaign. Several NRL and Super League stars were in McCormack's team for the tournament.


2013 World Cup

No Qualification was required for the Bravehearts for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup due to participating in the 2008 tournament. They were drawn in pool C alongside World Cup debutantes Italy and the powerful forwards and fast backs of Tonga. Every team needed to play 3 group games each so Scotland would also play an inter-group game against the other World Cup debutantes the United States. The Scots were underdogs against the Pacific Island nation who were full of NRL talent. But Scotland, in front of a record crowd at Derwent Park made another upset (like Fiji five years ago) winning a tough match by only a two-point margin at the end of the match. Scotland's second match was against the Italians at the same venue in front of more than 7,000 fans again who this time witnessed a high scoring draw. Scotland then finished their group stage by beating the United States convincingly. Scotland had almost qualified for the World Cup knockout stage for the first ever time but Italy were still within a chance to finish above Scotland and therefore eliminate Scotland's chances from progressing any further in the 2013 tournament. Italy only needed to win after they were also on 16+ points differential and they were facing Tonga who had absolutely nothing at stake but pride to play for. But, a shock to all, Tonga outclassed the Italians and eliminated them from participating any further in the competition. In the quarter-final they had a rare clash with a rugby league heavyweight. They took on New Zealand in Leeds in front of their biggest attendance away from Scotland. Despite their early defensive pressure that the crowd loved to cheer out loud for, Scotland's lack of experience against the heavyweight nations showed on the scoreboard and were therefore eliminated in a pleasing World Cup performance.[99]

2010s European Cup

In 2010 the European Cup reverted to the 'League Leaders' being the winners rather than having final games like the 2000s decade. In the 2010 European Cup and 2012 European Cup competitions Scotland only managed to finish third in each tournament recording with only one total victory.

In October and November 2014, 2013 Super League Man of Steel Award winner and RLIF International Player of the Year shortlist award finalist Danny Brough led Scotland in the 2014 European Cup. He shared his belief saying that Scotland have the quality and deserve playing at a higher International level after the 2013 Rugby League World Cup performance.[100] The Winner of the tournament would qualify to play in the 2016 Four Nations alongside International heavyweights Australia, England and New Zealand. Brough played at his best throughout the tournament, earning him the 'Player of the Tournament' award.[101] His performances and leadership inspired and influenced the team to qualify for 2016's major international rugby league competition.

2016 Four Nations

Scotland qualified for the 2016 Four Nations series and would be co hosts with England.

2017 World Cup

After making the finals of the 2013 tournament, Scotland automatically qualified for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.[102]


This shirt was used for the two World Cup Qualifying matches against Wales.


Since their first match Scotland have always played in royal blue, with a royal blue shirt, shorts and socks. In their two World Cup qualifying matches in 2007, the Scottish flag, featuring the white cross on a blue background, was on each shoulder and also on the shirt was a white collar.[103] On the left of the shirt is the Scotland badge, and on the right is the Great Britain badge which is split into four and then has the England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland rugby league badges in a shield.[104] This is to signify Scotland's part in the Great Britain setup.

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.[105][106][107]

The Scotch thistle, open and closed.

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.[108] 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.[109]

Scotland's current kit suppliers are O'Neills.


The emblem of the Scotland team is the thistle, which is on the team's badge in a crest.[110] 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.[111] 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.[112]

Current squad

The Scotland national team squad selected for the 2015 European Cup tournament.[113] (caps and points apply for after the tournament finished):

Other Nat. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
England Fullback Alex Walker (1995-09-04) 4 September 1995 (age 24) 3 0 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
England Wing Harvey Burnett (1995-08-18) 18 August 1995 (age 24) 4 0 Unattached
England Wing David Scott (1993-06-18) 18 June 1993 (age 26) 12 40 Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster RLFC
Scotland Wing Craig Robertson 0 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Edinburgh Eagles
England Centre Ben Hellewell (1992-01-30) 30 January 1992 (age 27) 11 16 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
England Centre Shane Toal 2 8 Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
Scotland Centre Finlay Hutchison 1 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Edinburgh Eagles
Scotland Centre Scott Plumridge 1 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Edinburgh Eagles
England Stand-off Danny Brough (Captain) (1983-01-15) 15 January 1983 (age 36) 20 135 File:Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
England Stand-off Oscar Thomas (1994-01-03) 3 January 1994 (age 25) 6 18 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
Scotland Halfback Louis Senter 3 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Easterhouse Panthers
Scotland Halfback Finn Murphy 0 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Edinburgh Eagles
England Prop Ben Kavanagh (1988-03-04) 4 March 1988 (age 31) 10 4 File:Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings
England Prop Adam Walker (1991-02-20) 20 February 1991 (age 28) 7 4 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
England Prop Jonathan Walker (1991-02-20) 20 February 1991 (age 28) 6 8 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
England Prop Sam Barlow (1988-03-07) 7 March 1988 (age 31) 9 4 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Australia Prop Billy McConnachie (1990-07-16) 16 July 1990 (age 29) 0 0 Ipswich Colours.svg Ipswich Jets
England Prop Joe McClean (1989-08-10) 10 August 1989 (age 30) 4 0 File:England colours.svg Gloucestershire All Golds
England Hooker Josh Barlow (1991-05-15) 15 May 1991 (age 28) 7 4 Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
England Hooker Liam Hood (1992-01-06) 6 January 1992 (age 27) 4 4 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
Scotland Hooker Lewis Clarke 2 0 File:Scotland colours.svg Edinburgh Eagles
England Second-row Sonny Esslemont (1993-12-29) 29 December 1993 (age 25) 6 0 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
England Second-row Corbyn Kilday (1994-11-17) 17 November 1994 (age 24) 5 4 File:Australian colours.svg Central Queensland Capras
England Lock Danny Addy (1991-01-15) 15 January 1991 (age 28) 11 22 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
England Lock Dale Ferguson (1988-04-13) 13 April 1988 (age 31) 10 16 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls

Player of the Year

Since 2004, the Scottish management team have given the Dave Valentine Award to their player of the year.[115] The award uses a voting system and is given to the player in early January.[116][117][118][119]

Year Player Club
2004 Chris Birchall Halifax
2005 Jon Steel Hull KR
2006 Neil Lowe Doncaster
2007 Duncan MacGillivray Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
2008 Iain Morrison Widnes Vikings
2009 Mick Nanyn Leigh Centurions
2010 Dale Ferguson Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
2011 John Duffy Leigh Centurions
2012 Ben Fisher Catalans Dragons
2013 Luke Douglas Gold Coast Titans
2014 Danny Brough Huddersfield Giants


Firhill Stadium played host to Scotland's first ever home fixture.

Firhill Stadium

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.[120] 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 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 29 October 2000.[121] This was the last time that the Bravehearts played at Firhill.

Tynecastle Stadium

Scotland's third World Cup match against Samoa was held at Tynecastle in Gorgie, Edinburgh. It was the first time that the Scotland team had played a home fixture outside Glasgow, but it was also the last, with the team moving back to Glasgow after this one match. The ground was opened in 1886 and is owned by Hearts football club.[122] It has a capacity of 17,000 making it one of the largest sports stadiums in the whole of Scotland, but the World Cup match attracted just under 2,000 people.[123] It is thought that the Rugby Football League and Scotland Rugby League hugely overestimated the appeal of rugby league in Edinburgh, particularly as many Scottish rugby league teams are based in and around Glasgow.[124]

Old Anniesland

For their opening European Nations Cup match against Ireland on 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 RFC,[125] one of the best Scottish amateur union sides, and houses one stand, gym facilities and an astroturf training pitch.[126] Apart from the three European Nations Cup matches Old Anniesland has also hosted a World Cup qualifying matches on 4 November 2007. This match was televised live on Sky Sports[127] and saw Scotland qualify for the 2008 World Cup.


World Cup

Scotland first competed in the 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 toughest group in the competition, with many of the matches being very close.[128] 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[129] and 1995,[130] Scotland were represented at the World Cup by Great Britain with several Scottish players making the team over the years.[131] Scotland competed in their second World Cup, the 2008 competition in Australia after qualifying. Scotland again Qualified for the 2013 and managed to make it to the quarter finals for the first time in their history but were defeated by holders New Zealand.

  • 1954 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1957 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1960 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1968 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1970 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1972 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1975 - Not invited.
  • 1977 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1988 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1992 - Represented by Great Britain.
  • 1995 - Not invited.
  • 2000 - Qualified. No wins in pool stages.
  • 2008 - Qualified. Finished 8th/10th.
  • 2013 - Qualified. Quarter Finals

European Cup

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.[132] 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.[133] 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.[134]

Clash of the Nations

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.[135] 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.[136][137] 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.

Triangular Challenge

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.


Name Nationality Tenure Matches Won Drew Lost Win %
George Fairbairn
Flag of Scotland.svg
13 August 1995 – 9 July 1997 6 3 0 3 50%
Billy McGinty
Flag of Scotland.svg
11 November 1998 – 18 November 1998 2 0 0 2 0%
Shaun McRae
Flag of Australia.svg
22 October 1999 – 5 November 2000 5 1 0 4 20%
Billy McGinty
Flag of Scotland.svg
3 July 2001 – 9 November 2003 3 2 0 1 66%
Steve McCormack
Flag of England.svg
24 October 2004 – present 28 11 1 16 38.89%


World Cup merchandise for fans.

Rugby League is a minor sport in Scotland, with the country never having had a professional club.[138] Participation in rugby league has increased though, with a Scottish division in the Rugby League Conference with seven teams,[139] including four in the Glasgow/West Scotland area[140][141][142][143] having formed in 2006. But, unlike in England, rugby league is not one of the ten most played sports in Scotland amongst adults.[144] 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,[145] with that figure growing to 12,500 when you add the amount of children who play the sport in various school programmes.[145][146][147] 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.

In 2009, the Magic Weekend was held at Murrayfield with a two-day attendance of 60,000 spectators, including ticket sales of just under 7,000 in Scotland alone, making the event a success.[148][149]


Official Rankings as of December 2015[150]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 897.00
2  Australia 719.00
3  England 655.00
4  Samoa 280.00
5  France 209.00
6 Increase  Ireland 162.00
7 Decrease  Fiji 147.00
8 Increase  Wales 132.00
9 Decrease  Scotland 121.00
10 Steady  United States 102.00
11 Increase  Serbia 72.00
12 Steady  Italy 65.00
13  Canada 62.00
14 Decrease  Papua New Guinea 60.00
15 Increase  Russia 46.00
16 Decrease  Tonga 40.00
17 Increase  Belgium 40.00
18  Malta 32.00
19 Steady  Germany 28.00
20  Lebanon 27.00
21 Increase  Spain 26.00
22 Decrease  Cook Islands 23.00
23  Ukraine 22.00
24 Steady  Greece 21.00
25 Increase  Denmark 20.00
26 Decrease  Norway 19.00
27 Increase  Jamaica 16.00
28 Decrease  Netherlands 15.00
29 Decrease  Sweden 15.00
30 Steady  Czech Republic 14.00
31 Decrease  South Africa 13.00
32 Steady  Niue 4.00
33  Hungary 2.00
34  Latvia 2.00
35  Morocco 0.00


  • World Ranking: 8th (2014)
  • European Ranking: 4th (2014)


  • Highest winning score: 104–0 v Italy at Padova, 17 October 2009
  • Widest winning margin: 104–0 v Italy at Padova, 17 October 2009
  • Highest losing score: 46–16 v France at Perpignan, 27 October 2007
  • Widest losing margin: 40–4 v New Zealand at Leeds, 15 October 2013 - RLWC 1/4 Final


Most Caps Top Point Scorer Top Try Scorer Top Goal Scorer
Player Caps Player Points Player Tries Player Goals
Andrew Henderson 23 Danny Brough 122 Mick Nanyn 9 Danny Brough 52
Danny Brough 20 Mick Nanyn 84 Danny Arnold 8 Mick Nanyn 24
Alex Szostak 18 Matt Crowther 54 Ben Fisher 6 Matt Crowther 21
Ben Fisher 16 Danny Arnold 32 James Nixon 6 Graeme Thompson 7
Oliver Wilkes 16 David Scott 30 Danny Brough 6 John Duffy 7


  • Biggest home attendance: 2,000 at various matches
  • Biggest away attendance: 16,207 v New Zealand at Leeds, 15 November 2013



In 18 years of international rugby league Scotland have played 37 matches, winning 40.54% of them. Their most regular opponent has been Ireland, who similarly starting playing Rugby League in the mid-1990s. However, in nine matches, five of them being played in Scotland, the Scots have only managed to beat the Wolfhounds three times – a 26–6 victory in 1996 in Glasgow, a 42–22 victory in Dublin and a 26–6 victory in Glasgow in 2011.[151] However the Irish do not count the 1996 defeat in Glasgow and consider it only as a friendly. They fare better against France and Wales though, the only other Northern Hemisphere opponents that they have faced more than once.

Against Played Won Lost Drawn  % Won
 Ireland 9 3 6 0 33%
 Italy 2 1 0 1 50%
 Fiji 2 1 1 0 50%
 France 6 2 4 0 33%
 Wales 7 3 4 0 43%
 Russia 1 1 0 0 100%
 United States 2 2 0 0 100%
 Cook Islands 1 0 1 0 0%
 Lebanon 1 1 0 0 100%
 Māori 1 0 1 0 0%
 Samoa 1 0 1 0 0%
 Tonga 2 1 1 0 50%
 New Zealand 1 0 1 0 0%
 Papua New Guinea 1 0 1 0 0%

World Cup

World Cup Record
Year Round Position Pld
France 1954 Did not enter
Australia 1957
England 1960
Australia New Zealand 1968
England 1970
France 1972
Australia New Zealand 1977
England 1995
United Kingdom Republic of Ireland France 2000 Group Stage 13th out of 16 3
Australia 2008 Group Stage 6th out of 10 4
England Wales 2013 Quarter-final 7th out of 14 4
Australia New Zealand 2017

European Cup

European Cup Record
Year Round Position Pld
2003 Group Stage 3rd out of 6 2
2004 Group Stage 3rd out of 6 2
2005 Group Stage 6th out of 9 2
2009 Final 2nd out of 6 3
2010 Group Stage 3rd out of 4 3
2012 Group Stage 3rd out of 3 2
2014 Champions 1st out of 4 3

Four Nations

Four Nations Record
Year Round Position Pld
England France 2009 Did not qualify
Australia New Zealand 2010 Did not enter
England Wales 2011 Did not qualify
Australia New Zealand 2014 Did not enter
England Scotland 2016

Scotland A

The Scotland A national rugby league team nicknamed the Bravehearts is made up of amateur players, who either play in the Rugby League Conference the BUCS university league or the Scottish domestic competition.[152][153][154] Napier University has also played a huge part in the team, with many Napier students having played in the side over the years.[155] The team regularly compete against England, Wales and Ireland, playing them annually in the Skanska Amateur Four Nations. Since the creation of this tournament, in 2002, Scotland have won it just once in 2010. In 2003 Scotland embarked on a mini tour of Europe playing in Netherlands, Italy and Serbia, helping expand rugby league in those country by playing domestic and national sides.[156] Former player and winner in 2010 Mike Wallace currently coaches the side.[157]

Match officials

See also



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External links