History of Rugby in India
The first recorded match of rugby in India was played at CFC in Calcutta on 25th December 1872 between England and a combined team of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The struck chords among the spectators and as a result had to be repeated within the week. With increase in popularity the game was finally established. And in January 1873, officers were appointed and club rolls gave a total of 137 members. The colours of the clubs were chosen as white and red with broad stripes. The year 1877 saw the downslide of the game which led to almost extinction of the game. But with constant dedication and administrative prowess by wise G.A.J. Rothney, who had been acting as Captain, Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Club at that time helped the game to improve among the people.
The prestigious history of Bombay Gymkhana started in the year 1872. During that time the population of Mumbai was 6 lakh of which 7,000 were from foreign land. Previously the game of rugby was played on ground now known as Oval. The field where rugby was played was previously tennis court which are now located in the triangular piece of land behind the Clubhouse. The club now has black and gold colours that was introduced and also worn by members in 1877 when memberships were 283.
Madras Gymkhana won their first recorded cup in the year 1912, but, sadly enough, the club ceased to play rugby in the year 1970.
During the First World War and Second World War, the rugby competitions were suspended and there were also long gaps in the records 1923 and 1925 and the fifteen years between 1948 and 1963 when Karachi won the Trophy. Cookies and Hammers, the two teams named and sponsored after two enthusiastic Gym protagonists, Hamilton and Cochrane, appear respectively in 1964 and 1966, separated by an undecided tournament in 1965. Hammers have also won the cup many times but there is no evidence of the cookies ever having won the same.
Due to the encouragement and interest of Police Commissioner Jimmy Jameson, Maharashtra State Police won the Cup for the first time in the year 1967. They have since won the cup six times in the years up to 1983.
The appearance of Bombay Rugby by Wilson College Gymkhana was rather short lived, though they tasted success in the tournament in the four years from 1976-78. They indeed added greatly to the excellence of Rugger both in Mumbai and India.
Till the independence of India in 1947, the Services Team won for 26 times. Among the current surviving rugby teams, the record show, Gym won the Cup 12 times in 100 years, Calcutta 4 times and the Maharashtra State Police 7 times. Mysteriously there are blanks in the records for the past 100 years, but this in no way, dims the achievements and glory of the Indian rugby.
The recent development of rugby in India is indeed an exciting prospect. Constant growth of rugby in India has been witnessed over the past several years ever since the setting up of The Indian Rugby Football Union in 1968. The adoption of the sport within the Armed Forces and Police means that the game has strong growth potential.
All India and South Asia Rugby Tournament
All India and South Asia Rugby Tournament is an amateur league competition for rugby union football clubs in India. All India and South Asia Rugby Tournament has been played since 1924. In 2016, there are 12 teams, which took part in the tournament and Army Red were the champions.