Some may question as to why a rugby club has its own exhibition in the Scottish Football Museum. Though, once the tale of Edinburgh Academical Football Club (EAFC) is shared, then people see why it is reasonable that the Museum’s latest exhibition on a rugby club is relevant to the game of football.
The Edinburgh Academical Football Club were formed in 1857 by former pupils and those who held close connection to the school. The club is the oldest ‘football club’ by any code in Scotland (160 years old this year). EAFC were formed before the football split as to what determines a football club and a rugby club. The club was initially formed to play football and then, in time, adopted ‘Rugby rules’ which were based on those formulated at ‘Rugby School’. Accies are the second oldest rugby club in the world; behind Trinity College in Dublin, plus the members who helped form the club would also be instrumental in constructing and formatting of the RFU, the SFU and IRFB.
Accies played their first ever match against students from University of Edinburgh on Boxing Day 1857, this is regarded as the first ever rugby match played in Scotland and also the first inter-club match in the world.
Indeed, the very first rugby international match took place at Raeburn Park on 27th March 1871. A Scotland team, made up of eight EAFC players, would play England. Scotland would be victorious in this game-winning by two tries and a goal to England’s single try.
Interestingly, JH Clayton, who represented England in the first ever international match, too has a connection with Accies; for his great, great, great grandson, Jack, currently plays for the Edinburgh side.
More than 120 EAFC players have represented the Scotland Rugby team; more than any other club in Scotland in stat terms, that is one in ten players selected for national duty has played for EAFC.
Richard McBrearty, the Museum Curator, shared “As the oldest surviving Scottish football club of any code, the history of Edinburgh Accies is inextricably linked to the origins of modern football. It is exciting for us to host an exhibition celebrating the 160th anniversary of this significant club.”
Commenting on the new exhibition in the Scottish Football Museum, EAFC President, Frank Spratt, said: “We are delighted to be given a place in the National Football Museum in our 160th season. We are deeply proud of our shared football heritage, as well as our own place in rugby history. The exhibition is a fitting tribute to our Club, as well as showcasing some important artefacts that will contribute greatly to the success of the MoIR.”