Why is the Six Nations match between England and Scotland called the Calcutta Cup?

Chris Robshaw, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola after England's 2016 victory (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

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England are targeting a record-equaling 18th consecutive victory when they host Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Red Rose are yet to lose under Eddie Jones, who's been in charge for 17 games, and will go level with New Zealand's streak with a win in their penultimate clash of the 2017 Six Nations.

Beating the Scots will also keep England on course for a second Grand Slam on the bounce, which could be clinched next week in Ireland.

Vern Cotter's side have been the over-achievers of this year's series though, and far from the easy beats they have threatened to become in recent years.

So the two sides who have been playing each other since 1871 will have it all to play for in west London.

The ultimate prize on the day will be the coveted Calcutta Cup, but why is this battle between the auld enemy called this?

England captain Dylan Hartley holds the Calcutta Cup aloft after winning last year's edition (Photo: PA)

Why is England vs Scotland called the Calcutta Cup?

The Six Nations contest between England and Scotland every year is played with the Calcutta Cup up for grabs.

It started all the way back in 1872 – when a game featuring 20 players representing England and 20 players representing Scotland, Ireland and Wales was played on Christmas Day in Calcutta, India.

The match was repeated a week later, and, such was the success, the Calcutta Football Club was formed in January 1873.

CFC joined the Rugby Football Union in 1874, but the climate in India didn't lend itself to rugby, and when the free bar was discontinued, membership dropped significantly.

The members discontinued the club and withdrew the funds from the bank, having the silver rupees melted down and made into a cup which was presented to the RFU in 1878 – with the provision it should be competed for annually.

England v Scotland Six Nations View gallery

What is the history of the Calcutta Cup?

The Calcutta club initially wanted the trophy to be competed for in a knockout tournament by domestic sides in England, an FA Cup of rugby, but the RFU were unwilling due to 'competitiveness' going against the amateur nature of rugby union.

They instead decided to award the trophy to whoever won the annual fixture between England and Scotland, with the first match under this name taking place on March 10 1879, which ended in a draw.

England were the first winners on February 28, 1880, scoring three tries and two goals to Scotland's one goal.

Through many law changes and the advent of professionalism, matches have been contested on a yearly basis ever since, apart from hiatuses for both World Wars.

The original trophy is in such a fragile state it cannot attend functions or tours. When England win the trophy, as they have for the last seven years, it is on display at the Museum of Rugby in Twickenham.

Both countries have full-sized replicas.

Haskell drinks from a replica of the Calcutta Cup – the original is fragile and on display at Twickenham's Museum of Rugby (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

How many times has each country won the Calcutta Cup?

Calcutta Cup record

Up to and including 2016 Six Nations

  • England: 70 (57 per cent)
  • Scotland: 39 (32 per cent)
  • Draws: 14 (11 per cent)

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