Derby noun (Derby or local derby) British. A sports match between two rival teams from the same area.
There are two theories as to where the term derby originated. The first comes from ‘The Derby’, a horse race founded by the earl of Derby in 1780. Another, although disputed, claims the term comes from the county of Derbyshire itself. The traditional Shrovetide ball game in the area was renowned as an unruly and high-spirited game that often resulted in fatalities.
The area this Christmas is Scotland, and the two rivals – Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors – will compete fiercely for the historic 1872 Cup over the upcoming festive period.
A fixture with its status as the oldest non-international in rugby. Perhaps not a derby in terms of relative location but, with all the connotations of a classic local derby match on a larger scale and, with only two professional sides in Scotland, the players are not only competing for league points but for all of the bragging rights that come with victory.
Personally I grew up in the Scottish Borders. An area in which clubs still contest the oldest Rugby Union league in the world. Almost every fixture in the Border League is considered a ‘local derby’ due to the close proximity of the towns.
Playing four seasons of senior rugby for my original club Selkirk RFC I lifted the Border League three times, the Borders Kings of the Sevens on two occasions, on top of the clashes played against these clubs in normal league duty.
I have been lucky enough to have been involved in the last four 1872 Cup fixtures over the past two seasons, so the derby match is something I am certainly familiar with in rugby terms.
These matches often draw the best out of players and it is common for the less fancied team to raise their game, regardless of the opposition and defy the form book. A derby is the sort of match that every player wants to be involved in. The excitement and anticipation can be recognised in players, clubs and whole communities in the build-up to such a fixture and this is certainly the case within the Edinburgh camp.
The passion for these fixtures among the players is obvious and inspiring. Players know their opposition personally and this adds fuel the fire in terms of drive and willingness to succeed; an opportunity to get one up on the competition.
Leading into the RBS 6 Nations many of the Edinburgh and Glasgow players are involved in the national setup with Scotland so the opportunity for supporters and coaches to see players one on one in direct competition for places is a huge attraction, with both fixtures likely to draw huge support from the Scottish public.
From an Edinburgh perspective the 1872 Cup provides a great chance for us make progress in the RaboDirect PRO12 with a total of 10 league points on offer, while going toe to toe with our biggest rivals.
It’s also a chance to recapture the 1872 Cup for the first time in three years and build momentum into the remainder of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.
Obviously the same applies to Glasgow, which makes it such an attractive spectacle and an important few weeks for both clubs, and Scottish rugby in general.
Personally it is a derby in which I have won, drawn and lost, but never prevailed over the two legs and lifted the Cup.
Alongside everything else this is motivation enough for me, and I’m looking forward to doing my utmost to help Edinburgh Rugby lift the 1872 Cup for 2012/2013.