Scottish rugby union system

Scottish rugby union system

Domestic club rugby union within Scotland remains a predominantly amateur sport; however, semi-professional and professional outfits have been created in recent decades to participate in cross-border competitions.


  • Professional Outfits 1
  • Domestic Rugby 2
    • Scottish League Championship 2.1
    • Scottish Cup 2.2
    • Scottish SuperCup 2.3
    • British and Irish Cup 2.4
  • Unincorporated Leagues 3
  • See also 4
  • Sources 5

Professional Outfits

With the advent of professionalism in 1995 the Scottish Rugby Union decided that existing club sides would be unable to compete with their wealthier English and French counterparts in new cross-border tournaments such as the European Cup and Celtic League. It was decided that new clubs would be created based on the country's four geographical districts:

Club Representing District Home Base Professionally Active
Border Reivers Scottish Borders Galashiels 1995 - 1998 and 2002 - 2007
Caledonia Reds North and Midlands Aberdeen and Perth 1995 - 1998
Edinburgh Edinburgh and Lothians Edinburgh 1995 - Present
Glasgow Warriors West of Scotland Glasgow 1995 - Present

Domestic Rugby

Scottish League Championship

The Scottish League Championship is the annual, domestic league structure competed for by over 150 clubs at both national and regional levels. After major restructuring during the 2012-13 season only the top two divisions remain nationwide, with all divisions below being based regionally. The current structure is:

  • The Premier Division: 10 clubs, top four represent Scotland in following seasons British and Irish Cup, bottom team relegated and ninth-placed enter promotion/relegation play-off
  • National League: 10 clubs, winners promoted, runners-up enter promotion/relegation play-off, bottom two teams relegated
  • Championship A & B: 2 divisions (Geographically organized into West and East), 10 clubs each, winners promoted, bottom teams relegated and ninth-placed finishers compete in relegation playoff
  • Regional Leagues: 3 Regions (Caledonia, East and West) who organize their own league structures (though top divisions consist of 10 clubs), winners of each region are promoted

Scottish Cup

The Scottish Cup was introduced in 1995 as a complementary knock-out cup competition. Though the structure of the cup has been changed numerous times it is currently regionalized in the early rounds with nationwide knock-out rounds following later in the season. The main cup competition is supplemented by bowl and shield competitions which all culminate in a 'Finals Day' at Murrayfield Stadium.

Scottish SuperCup

During the 2006-07 season an extra cup competition (The Scottish SuperCup) was introduced to replace a loss of fixtures in the Premiership due to league restricting. With the reversal of this restricting the following season the cup became redundant and was abandoned after a single season.

British and Irish Cup

For the 2009-10 season a new cross-border tournament was introduced, The British and Irish Cup which would contain semi-professional clubs from the four home nations. Originally Scotland was represented by three sides but with restricting this has increased to four, who are determined by final positions in the League Championship.

Unincorporated Leagues

Scotland is also home to the oldest organised rugby union league in the world, the Border League, which was formed in 1901. The Border League does not take part in the pyramid structure to the National League, but all of its clubs play in both. Two small independent leagues remain, with only a handful of members: the Grampian Alliance League and the Highland Alliance League. For university and 2nd and 3rd XV leagues, see University Leagues in Scotland and 2nd XV Leagues in Scotland.

There are a small number of women's leagues in operation - see University Leagues in Scotland and SWRU League.

See also