Celebrating 30 years of Women’s rugby in Scotland
1993 was an historic year for Women’s rugby in Scotland.
After many painstaking years to develop the women’s game, the first official domestic competitions were launched in Scotland, and some 142 years after the first men’s international, Scotland Women played in their first official international, beating Ireland 10-0.
The significance of the hard work put in by players and clubs across the country to reach this point cannot be over-emphasised enough as it paved the way for some of the most talented and influential players and coaches in the game.
Between 1993 and 2009 the Scottish Women’s Rugby Union (SWRU) was responsible for running the women’s game, which oversaw Scotland competing in the Six Nations and European Championships as well as three Rugby World Cups, hosting the 1994 edition.
In 2009, the SWRU integrated with the Scottish Rugby Union.
The first Women’s Premiership division in 1993 featured teams from Edinburgh Accies, West of Scotland, Aberdeen University, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh University and Biggar.
Edinburgh Accies Women, the first domestic club Scotland legend Kim Littlejohn joined upon starting her rugby career, were the title winners, topping the table with 37 points having claimed eight wins from 10 fixtures, followed by West of Scotland as the runners up.
Accies went on to claim three more titles before exiting the competition in 2001.
A number of teams have won the Premiership league in its 30 years, with Murrayfield Wanderers having lifted the trophy 10 times, followed by Hillhead Jordanhill with five titles. Watsonians secured back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2022 (the 2020 and 2021 season disrupted by Covid-19).
Stirling County are the current title holders, having claimed their first victory in their history, beating Corstorphine Cougars 27-8 at Bridgehaugh on Saturday 28 January 2023.
In its inaugural year, there were just 19 teams playing across the three National divisions. Fast forward to 2023, there are now 57 women’s teams playing across seven National and Regional leagues with more than 15 other developing teams involved in the Evolution and Aspiring leagues.
Looking ahead to this year’s competition, there are a number of exciting changes to the game.
Following on from their dominant performance in the National 1 league, Stewartry now enter the fold expanding the Women’s Premiership to eight teams this season, joining Garioch, Heriot’s Blues, Watsonians FC, Hillhead Jordanhill, Cartha Queens Park, Corstorphine Cougars and last year’s champions, Stirling County.
Supporting the growing numbers of players and teams across the country, the competition structures have been revamped with the realignment of the existing National league programme.
Teams below the Premiership have been moved into three regional league structures, of which each has multiple divisions. There will be an increase of 18 new teams to the competition structures this season, following development through the Evolution Series programme.
The winner from each regional ‘Division 1’ league will then progress to a ‘National Play-off Series’, a focussed and progressive competition structure affording the winner promotion to the Premiership.