Scotland 21-13 England (lost radio coverage of Five Nations Championship game; 1927)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Programme for the game.

Status: Lost

On 19th March 1927, Scotland hosted England for a Five Nations Championship game. Occurring in front of around 70,000 at the Murrayfield Stadium, Scotland defeated England 21-13 to claim the Calcutta Cup, and ultimately share the Five Nations Championship with Ireland. Aside from this being the first Calcutta Cup to be broadcast on radio, it also marked the BBC's first live outdoor commentary of a sporting event.


Scotland were the joint-defending Five Nations champions, having won the 1926 edition alongside Ireland.[1] Scotland had also beaten England that year 17-9, thus making them the defending Calcutta Cup champions as well.[2] Scotland's 1927 campaign started strongly enough, defeating France 23-6, before beating Wales 5-0.[3] However, its campaign became somewhat unstuck when the team lost 6-0 to Ireland.[3] Meanwhile, England had beaten Wales 11-9, and edged out Ireland 8-6.[3] Following the Calcutta Cup game, they would be set to face France on 2nd April.[3] As it stood, Ireland were on top with six points.[4] If Scotland beat England, they would share the title with Ireland and potentially England as well.[4] Meanwhile, England needed to win at least one match to become joint-champions, and both to become the undisputed champion.[4] Naturally, winning the Calcutta Cup was a source of pride for these old rivals.[5]

Earlier in 1927, the inaugural Royal Charter transformed the BBC into a state-controlled institution, finally allowing it to cover sporting events live after having been frustrated by restrictions lobbied by the print media.[6][7][8] This led to numerous pioneering sports broadcasts, including covering England's win over Wales, becoming the first rugby match to receive radio coverage in Britain.[9][7][8] The BBC, having achieved a strong relationship with the Rugby Football Union, was set to air the upcoming Scotland-England clash.[10][11][9] What made this event special in BBC radio sports history was that commentary was conducted outdoors for the first time.[12] Previous commentaries were restricted to makeshift indoor areas, including for the Corinthians-Newcastle United FA Cup match on 29th January. The ability to provide fully outdoor commentaries allowed for greater freedom in airing coverage, including for the 1927 Boat Race, which became the second BBC sports commentary to be conducted outdoors.[12] As with other early BBC sport broadcasts, Issue 180 of Radio Times provided a grid system split into eight sections.[13] The idea was that when the commentator would call out the number, it would theoretically allow listeners to follow where the action was commencing at.[14][13]

Ultimately, in front of approximately 70,000 at the Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland prevailed.[15] The first-half proved a close affair, with Scotland edging out the visitors 9-8. However, two tries by Ian Smith, combined with one apiece from Jimmy Dykes, Phil Macpherson, and Jumbo Scott, allowed Scotland to gain the advantage. This was boosted further with a conversion by Sandy Gillies and a drop goal by Herbet Waddell. Despite some strong England attacks, such as tries by John Gibbs and Colin Laird, conversions by Edward Stanbury and Kendrick Stark, and a penalty by Stark, the visitors ultimately came off second-best.[15] With this result, Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup, and guaranteed they would share the Five Nations Championship with at least Ireland.[16] England ultimately wasted their opportunity to also finish joint-first, after losing their final game 3-0 to France.[3] Eleven years later, the 1938 Calcutta Cup became historic as the first televised rugby match.[17]


The 1927 Calcutta Cup match was aired when radio recordings seldom transpired at the BBC. The corporation, with devices like the Blattnerphone, began recording events more regularly starting from the early-1930s.[18][19][20] Ultimately, the oldest surviving BBC recording of a sports event is a recreation of the 1928 FA Cup Final done in 1932.[21] Thus, the Calcutta Cup commentary is most likely permanently lost, unless there is some miracle pirate recording of it out there.

See Also


  1. ESPN detailing the 1926 Five Nations Championship table. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  2. ESPN detailing the result of the 1926 Calcutta Cup match. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 ESPN listing the results of the 1927 Five Nations Championship. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 ESPN detailing the 1927 Five Nations Championship prior to the Scotland-England match. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  5. Rugby World summarising the Calcutta Cup's history. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  6. BBC detailing the influential Royal Charter. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 Encyclopedia of Radio detailing the BBC's frustration in broadcasting sports prior to 1927, and how the Royal Charter allowed it to finally cover rugby matches among other sporting events. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 This is the BBC detailing how the Royal Charter allowed the BBC to cover live sports. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Social History of English Rugby Union detailing the BBC's relationship with the Rugby Football Union, allowing it to cover rugby matches in 1927. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  10. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  11. Issue 180 of Radio Times listing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race noting the Calcutta Cup was the BBC's first live outdoors sports commentary, with the 1927 Boat Race becoming the second. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 Issue 180 of Radio Times providing the grid the commentator would refer to. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  14. On This Day summarising Radio Times' grid system. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  15. 15.0 15.1 ESPN detailing the result of the encounter. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  16. ESPN detailing the final 1927 Five Nations Championship table. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  17. ESPN noting the 1938 Calcutta Cup was the first to be televised. Retrieved 17th Sep '23
  18. BBC explaining why most of its early radio output is missing. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  19. BBC noting that it started recording radio output from the 1930s onwards. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23 Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  20. BBC noting it had no viable means of recording sound until the introduction of the Blattnerphone in 1930. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  21. BBC providing the 1932 recreation of the 1928 FA Cup Final, the oldest surviving sports clip in its archive. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23