Scottish rugby union system

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Domestic club rugby union within Scotland remains a predominantly amateur sport; however, semi-professional and professional outfits have been created in recent decades to participate in cross-border competitions.

Professional Outfits[edit]

With the advent of professionalism in 1995 the Scottish Rugby Union, just like the Irish Rugby Football Union, decided that existing club sides would be unable to compete with their counterparts in new cross-border tournaments such as the European Cup and Celtic League. It was decided by the Scottish Rugby Union that new professional teams would be created based on the union's four historic geographical districts and building upon the legacy/vehicle of the Scottish Inter-District Championship:

Team Representing District Home Base Professionally Active
Border Reivers South Galashiels 1996–1998 and 2002–2007
Caledonia Reds North and Midlands Aberdeen and Perth 1996–1998
Edinburgh Edinburgh District Edinburgh 1996–Present
Glasgow Warriors Glasgow District Glasgow 1996–Present

The North and Midlands side was a de facto district based on the combination of The North and Midlands districts.

Domestic Rugby[edit]

Scottish League Championship[edit]

The Scottish League Championship is the annual, domestic league structure competed for by over 150 clubs at both national and regional levels. Restructuring before the 2014-15 season scrapped the regional Championship A & B leagues which sat below the National League for two seasons. The current structure is:

  • The Premiership: 10 clubs, top four compete in a knock-out play-off to decide the Premiership champions, bottom team relegated and ninth-placed enter promotion/relegation play-off
  • National League: 36 clubs in three divisions:
    • Division 1: 12 clubs, winners promoted, runners-up enter promotion/relegation play-off, bottom two teams relegated
    • Division 2: 12 clubs, winners and runners-up promoted, bottom two teams relegated
    • Division 3: 12 clubs, winners and runners-up promoted, bottom three teams relegated to the appropriate Regional league
  • Regional Leagues: 3 Regions (Caledonia, East and West) who organize their own league structures (though top divisions consist of 10 clubs), winners of each region are promoted

Structure[edit]

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Scottish Premiership
(BT Premiership)
10 clubs – 1 relegation, 1 relegation play-off spot

2

Scottish National League Division One
(BT National League Division 1)
12 clubs – 1 promotion, 1 promotion play-off, 2 relegation spots

3

Scottish National League Division Two
(BT National League Division 2)
12 clubs – 2 promotion, 2 relegation spots

4

Scottish National League Division Three
(BT National League Division 3)
12 clubs – 2 promotion, 3 relegation spots

5

Caledonia Regional League Division One
(BT Caledonia League Division 1)
10 clubs – 1 promotion, at least 1 relegation spot

East Regional League Division One
(BT East Regional League Division 1)
10 clubs – 1 promotion, at least 1 relegation spot

West League Division One
(BT West Division 1)
10 clubs – 1 promotion, at least 1 relegation spot

6

Caledonia Regional League Division Two Midlands
(BT Caledonia League Division 2 Midlands)
10 clubs – 1 promotion spot, 1 relegation spot

Caledonia Regional League Division Two North
(BT Caledonia League Division 2 North)
10 clubs – 1 promotion spot, 1 relegation spot

East Regional League Division Two
(BT East Regional League Division 2)
10 clubs – 2 promotion, 2 relegation spots

West Regional League Division Two
(BT West Division 2)
10 clubs – 2 promotion, at least 1 relegation spot

7

Caledonia Regional League Division Two Midlands
(BT Caledonia League Division 3 Midlands)
10 clubs – 1 promotion, at least 1 relegation spot

Caledonia Regional League Division Two North
(BT Caledonia League Division 3 North)
11 clubs – 1 promotion spot

East Regional League Division Two
(BT East Regional League Division 3)
7 clubs – 2 promotion spots

West Regional League Division Three
(BT West Division 3)
10 clubs – 2 promotion spots, 1 relegation spot

8

Caledonia Regional League Division Four Midlands
(BT Caledonia League Division 4 Midlands)
5 clubs – 1 promotion spot

West Regional League Division Four
(BT West Division 4)
7 clubs – 1 promotion spot

Scottish Cup[edit]

The Scottish Cup was introduced in 1995 as a complementary knock-out cup competition. Though the structure of the cup has been changed numerous times it is currently contested by all National League clubs in the first round, with Premiership teams being added in the second and third rounds. The main cup competition is supplemented by regional shield and bowl competitions which all culminate in a 'Finals Day' at Murrayfield Stadium.

Scottish SuperCup[edit]

During the 2006-07 season an extra cup competition (The Scottish SuperCup) was introduced to replace a loss of fixtures in the Premiership due to league restricting. With the reversal of this restricting the following season the cup became redundant and was abandoned after a single season.

British and Irish Cup[edit]

For the 2009-10 season a new cross-border tournament was introduced, the British and Irish Cup which would contain semi-professional clubs from the four home nations. Originally Scotland was represented by three sides but with restricting this has increased to four, who are determined by final positions in the League Championship.

Unincorporated Leagues[edit]

Scotland is also home to the oldest organised rugby union league in the world, the Border League, which was formed in 1901. The Border League does not take part in the pyramid structure to the National League, but all of its clubs play in both. Two small independent leagues remain, with only a handful of members: the Grampian Alliance League and the Highland Alliance League. For university and 2nd and 3rd XV leagues, see University Leagues in Scotland and 2nd XV Leagues in Scotland.

There are a small number of women's leagues in operation - see University Leagues in Scotland and SWRU League.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]