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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 15:40 GMT
A trophy with tradition
Martin Johnson lifts aloft the Calcutta Cup last year alongside Mark Regan
England will be aiming to keep the cup on Saturday
By BBC Sport Online's Matt Majendie

Compared to the football World Cup, the Calcutta Cup has had an easy life.

Football's number one prize was twice stolen.

The first was ahead of the 1966 tournament before being famously recovered by Pickles the dog. Then, in 1983, it was taken by Brazilian thieves and melted down.

In stark contrast the Calcutta Cup has only been involved in one real incident of note in its 123-year history, following the clash between England and Scotland at Murrayfield in 1988.


I remember we decided we would tip it over Brian Moore's head, full of whisky
John Jeffrey on the Calcutta Cup
While the exact details have never been totally ironed out it involved Scottish forward John Jeffrey and his England rival Dean Richards using the trophy as a rugby ball.

Jeffrey, who insists his memory is hazy of that night in Edinburgh, revealed his involvement in a video about the history of the Five Nations - And Then There Were Six.

He recalled: "In those days the captain used to take the Calcutta Cup around, filling it with drink and offering it to the punters.

"I remember we decided we would tip it over Brian Moore's head, full of whisky.

Damaged

"He started chasing us, so we just ran on and, once the next set of doors opened, we were on the street. We jumped into a taxi and still had the Calcutta Cup with us.

"We went into two or three pubs and then came back.

"I can't really remember after that, but the cup certainly came back.

"We took it away and it was not damaged and it came back damaged, so you have to hold your hands up and say 'Yes, we were responsible."

Andy Nicol lifts aloft the Cup in 2000
Scotland won it back in 2000
As it happened the trophy was returned dented and both men received bans, Jeffrey's far more severe than the one imposed on Richards.

And since then the piece of silverware has always stayed firmly within the gaze the Five/Six Nations committee men.

The Calcutta Cup, as its name suggests, originated in India in 1879 at the Calcutta Rugby and Cricket Club.

The rugby club had no opposition so they decided to disband and took all the funds they had, 13 silver rupees, melted them down and made a cup.

Centenary

Members of the club then approached the RFU offering it as a prize for a club competition but that was considered against the ethics of the amateur game.

Instead it became the prize for the winner of England-Scotland clashes.

It was competed for in 1879 for the first time but the game ended in a draw.

But England became the first holders the following year after defeating the Scots in Manchester and Scotland won it back two years later, again triumphing in Manchester.

Jeffrey in action during the 1990 Calcutta Cup match. He was found guilty of damaging the trophy two years previously
John Jeffrey played a part in the trophy's history
Only two England-Scotland matches have resulted in the Cup not being handed over - when the sides met for the RFU centenary in 1971 and in their World Cup semi-final in 1991 - as it was not part of the Five/Six Nations.

It has remained unchanged since its inception, aside from some repairs after the Jeffrey-Richards incident, and is the oldest trophy in the history of international rugby.

That incident in itself led one Scottish Rugby Union official to say: "Looks likes we'll have to call it the Calcutta Plate from now on."

But since then moments of controversy off the pitch have been almost non-existent.

Ross Hamilton, the librarian at the RFU in Twickenham, though, remembers one other twist ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday.

He said: "One year, it must have been back in the last century, the Scots were so convinced that they were going to successfully defend their title that they didn't even bother to bring it with them when they travelled down to England.

"As it happened they lost, which is probably what they deserved."

England remain the favourites for victory this weekend and boast twice as many wins as the Scots over the years.

One person who won't be cheering for another English win this weekend is Hamilton, despite the possibility of upsetting his employers.

The devout Scottish fan confessed: "I'll be gunning for Scotland but fear that when I turn up for work on Monday it will be back at the RFU museum."

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