Sporting Saint Andrew

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-14-36-39As Scots all over the world come together to celebrate St Andrew’s Day it’s worth remembering how strong and diverse a tradtion it has been for centuries. Scottish migrants took it with them in their cultural baggage when making home around the globe – from San Francisco in the US to Invercargill in New Zealand.

Yet while balls and dinners were the most common, St Andrew’s Day celebrations have also long since been connected with sporting events. In Singapore and Malaysia, these usually took the form of rugby matches, played between Scottish teams and a tem comprised of players from diverse national backgrounds – thus often a team called “The Rest of the World”.

In Singapore, in 1932, the match took place at the Singapore Cricket Club, when “The Rest of the World” beat¬† Scotland by nine points to three.

View of the SCC, 1914

In 1935 too, and while “Scotland struggled gallantly to uphold the fighting traditions of the race …¬† [they] went down dying hard, by four point.” Still, and as was reported inthe local press:

Rain had made the ground wet and heavy, nevertheless, even in conditions which might have daunted a Bruce or a Wallace, the sons of Caledonia showed little efter-effects […] of the Friday’s St. Andrew’s Society Dinner. […] For the greater part of the second session the Clansmen were on top, Keay putting them ahead with a try and a drop goal – two splendid efforts.

Of course things did not always end in defeat. In 1950, it was thanks to “a brilliant winning dash by Scotland’s left-wing three Roper in the last moments of the game” that secured a win. In fact, the match was “one of the best seen in the Colony”.

Whether the Scottish team won or not, St Andrew’s Day rugby matches were enjoyed by Scots and non-Scots alike. And following that spirit of enjoyment and conviviality: have a happy St Andrew’s Day!

To learn more about the Scots in Singapore, see also my most recent article, which is available from the Britain and the World journal via Open Access.

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