Telling a ‘pirate’ from ‘a pirate of a pirate’

World Rugby Museum: from the vaults

‘Perhaps the easiest and most common path into memorabilia collecting is via the once-humble match programme. Some surviving examples from the 1880s and earlier were single-sheet, single-side even at international level, and intended mainly or solely as an aide-memoire and indication of the players selected.

They gave (doubtless to the delight of the Scottish RU), no numbers for the players, since at first (and, with Scotland, for a long time) jerseys bore none. As the King was told, none were needed ‘because this is a game, not a cattle market’! Forwards, in addition, had no specialised positions onfield and hence on programmes for many years.


These flimsy bits of paper, purchased for perhaps two old pennies (less than 1p), were unlikely to long outlive the match. No wonder, then, that they are so rare even for the biggest games before 1900. If you find one, hold on: and if need…

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