The Royal High Rugby club’s origins are to be found in the Royal High School which means they are covered by the mists of time. There is some evidence, supplied by a famous academical sportsman, that there was a carrier game played in the school about 1810. This even provides a link with Sir Walter Scott. The original laws of Rugby Football were brought to the school in 1856 by an English public school boy.
Royal High were one of the founding members of the Scottish Football Union with was later renamed as the SRU. In the early years the club produced many internationalists. It had the honour of having Angus Buchanan play in the first International against the ‘Auld Enemy’. He scored the winning try which was the first ever international try scored in rugby!
The first game played by the capital F. P. Club was in 1867 against the ‘Accies’ although the F.P. Club was not formed until 1868 when the club played it games at Holyrood. At that time the club was open but unfortunately the Rector of the school in 1870 insisted that only F. P.s would be eligible to play.
When the club moved to play at Grange Loan it entered one of its purple patches, under the captaincy of Nat Watt 1881-1884. The team was known as Nat’s ‘Lambs’ this nickname it did not reflect their style of play. The lambs in 1883–1884 lost only one game and we are recognised as the Champions of Scotland.
The turn of the century was dominated by the career of Mark Morrison who played for Scotland 23 times, captaining them to a Triplecrown in 1901 and 1903 and then captaining the Lions on their 1903 tour of South Africa. All this sporting activity lead to Mark’s being posthumously inducted into the S.R.U’s Hall of Fame and also to the Scottish Sporting Hall of Fame.
Like all clubs there was no playing during the First World War. Thanks to the efforts of J. Hume who along with”Podger” Laing played for Scotland before and after the work, the clock was revived with the games against Stewartonians and Heriotonians. In the April the club won the Border Football War Memorial Cup at the Gala Sevens. The War Memorial was the purchase of Jocks Lodge for £1000. The club moved away from its seventh ground Union Park.
The club had its second purple patch in the 1930s under the captaincy of W.D. (Bill) space Emalie and international standoff, playing in front of crowds of 2000. A three season spell of fast open rugby culminated in 1933–34 with the teams sharing the Unofficial Championship with Hillhead. Bill also led a Seven in 1938 at Hawick to a record 31-0 win over Hawick. In 1935 Peter Tait had the dubious honour of receiving, in one week, two postcards; one for the club seconds and one for Scotland!
Following instructions to all clubs from the S.R.U. no official games were played during the Second World War. The club still managed to play 110 games, with the help of players home on leave and school boys, who played again in the afternoon for the second time.
Normal play was resumed in 1946–47 with the club having another purple patch in the early 1950’s under the captaincy of Alex Harper. In 1951–52 Alex’s team was runner-up in the Unofficial Championship. Two characters, T.P.L McGlashan and J.Dignall made outstanding contributions during this period and surpassed P.W.Tait’s record number of matches for the club. In 1972 after an expensive visit to the court, the club returned to its original open status. Life continues as normal with good and bad seasons having to other purple patches under the captaincy of Eric Ireland 1963-64 and Gerry McCosh 1972-73.
To city council political decisions adversely affected the club. Firstly the decision to build the new school at Barton and not Jock’s Lodge and the subsequent decision to terminate the City’s annual grant towards the running costs of Jock’s Lodge. These two decisions ultimately resulted in the sale of Jock’s Lodge and a move to Barnton. At Barnton the money from the sale of Jock’s Lodge was used to build a new pavilion, and all-weather hockey pitch and a bowling green.
Royal High now play in East Region Division One and are aiming for promotion to the National Leagues…