The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU; Scottish Gaelic: Aonadh Rugbaidh na h-Alba) is the governing body of rugby union in Scotland. It is the second oldest Rugby Union, having been founded in 1873, as the Scottish Football Union. The SRU oversees the national league system, known as the Scottish League Championship. The SRU is headed by the President (Rob Flockhart) and Chairman (Colin Grassie), with Mark Dodson acting as the Chief Executive Officer.
The Scottish Football Union was founded on Monday 3 March 1873 at a meeting held at Glasgow Academy, Elmbank Street, Glasgow. Eight clubs were represented at the foundation, Glasgow Academicals; Edinburgh Academical Football Club; West of Scotland F.C.; University of St Andrews Rugby Football Club; Royal High School FP; Merchistonians; Edinburgh University RFC; and Glasgow University. Five of these clubs were, at the time of founding the Scottish Football Union, already members of the previously instituted Rugby Football Union. Although the RFU now represents exclusively English clubs, in its first few years it had members from outside England, there being no other national union. West of Scotland, Glasgow Academicals and Edinburgh University had joined the RFU in 1871 and Edinburgh Academicals and Royal High School FP had joined in 1872. These five renounced membership of the RFU to join the SFU.
The SRU owns Murrayfield Stadium which is the main home ground of the Scottish national team, though in 2004 international rugby games were played at Hampden Park in Glasgow and McDiarmid Park in Perth, as part of the SRU's campaign to reach out to new audiences outside the traditional rugby areas.
When the Heineken Cup (now replaced by the European Rugby Champions Cup) was suggested SRU officials were concerned that Scottish club sides could not compete against the best teams from France and England and that centrally funded so-called 'super-district' teams might do better.
The four traditional districts—the South (renamed Border Reivers), Edinburgh, Glasgow and the North & Midlands (rebranded as Caledonia Reds)—were given the go-ahead to take part in Europe. For the first two seasons, players were still released to play for their clubs in domestic competition, but eventually the districts became full-time operations.
Then financial difficulties—the SRU's high debt, partly as a result of the redevelopment of Murrayfield—called for retrenchment. After two seasons, financial difficulties forced the SRU to merge the four teams into two. Edinburgh merged with the Border Reivers to form a team to be known as Edinburgh Reivers. Glasgow merged with Caledonian to form a team to be known as Glasgow Caledonian.
The Borders was resurrected in 2002 and joined the second season of the Celtic League. As a consequence Edinburgh Reivers became simply Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow became Glasgow Rugby. In 2005, all three teams adopted new names. The Borders readopted the name Border Reivers; Edinburgh became Edinburgh Gunners, but would revert to Edinburgh in 2006; and Glasgow became Glasgow Warriors. Furthermore, the SRU planned to have a world class rugby side for each city or large town in Scotland, when financial circumstances permitted.
In 2007, The Borders team was disbanded yet again as a result of continuing financial difficulties. In the same year, the SRU began organising the Scotland Sevens, first held in Edinburgh and later in Glasgow. For several years, it was the final event in the annual Sevens World Series, but that distinction now belongs to London.
On 21 November 2009 Scotland beat Australia 9–8 after 17 attempts in 27 years.
In the Season 2010–11 the SRU had a contractual dispute with the Season Ticket Holders of Edinburgh Rugby.
On 22 December 2010 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Small Claims) the Sheriff ruled the Scottish Rugby Union had entered a contract between itself and Season Ticket Holders of Edinburgh Rugby Club. The Sheriff also found that the SRU had breached the contract between itself and Edinburgh Rugby Club (a Division of the SRU). Although it was found that the SRU had breached the contract, the Sheriff could not make an order instructing the SRU to comply with its obligation under that contract.
The SRU celebrated its centenary in 1973 with a number of events. Among these was the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament, the first sevens tournament to have national representative sides. The programme for that event also sported the new coat of arms of the SRU that was granted by the Lord Lyon King of Arms on 28 February 1973, for the centenary season. The coat of arms is still in use today, but in the main the SRU use the commercial thistle logo on jerseys and stationary. The coat of arms has the motto "Non Sine Gloria", meaning "Not Without Glory".
The SRU oversees the national league system, known as the Scottish League Championship, and consisting of:
It also oversees the Scottish Cup. It is not directly responsible for local, university or 2nd XV leagues.
See also Scottish Women's Rugby.
A National Cup competition:
Regional Cup Competition:
The SRU oversees Scotland's national teams. The most prominent team is the Scotland national rugby union team, which competes in the Six Nations tournament every year and in the Rugby World Cup every four years. The SRU also oversees the Scotland national sevens team, which competes every year in the IRB Sevens World Series and the Scottish National Women's Rugby Team.
The head coach of the Scottish national women's rugby team is Shade Munro.
The current President, Rob Flockhart, was elected for a two-year term of office in August 2016. At the same time Dee Bradbury was elected as vice president, meaning that in August 2018 she will succeed Flockhart to become the SRU’s first female President. In August 2016 the board elected Colin Grassie to the position of Chairman, taking up the post in January 2017 for a three year term. The Chief Executive Officer is Mark Dodson.
In May 2014, it was announced that Sheila Begbie had been appointed to the newly created post of Head of Women's Rugby, reporting directly to the Director of Rugby and she was due to commence this role in August 2014.