Rugby has come home after an elaborate re-enactment of the historic Carterhaugh Ba’ Game 200 years after the original event near Selkirk.
Staged on Friday, the match was organised by The Bill McLaren Foundation and Bowhill House - Selkirk home of the Duke of Buccleuch, whose ancestor, the fourth duke, was instrumental in the holding of the 1815 game.
Friday’s celebratory event involved local performers and members of the community and was started by the Duke of Buccleuch.
The match was contested by a Borders team and a Whitehaven team, with the specially made ba’ being hailed by Jedburgh’s Greg Slorance after near two hours of play.
It has been suggested that the famous Carterhaugh match, organised by Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg along with the fourth duke, could be the forebear of rugby.
One historical account suggests the ball was at one point picked up and slung between teammates, eight years before William Webb Ellis purportedly ran with the ball in hand at Rugby School.
Friday’s anniversary event also included a grand narrated interpretation of the original game featuring a re-enactment group, drummers, flagbearers, halberdiers, musketeers and jesters.
‘Sir Walter Scott’ began proceedings by welcoming the players to the field and providing an explanation of the rules, before the current Duke of Buccleuch followed in his ancestor’s footsteps, officially beginning the match by throwing the ball into the air.
Throughout the staging, the narrator talked spectators through the history of the original game, explaining how it involved teams from Selkirk and Yarrow and was played at Carterhaugh.
The re-enactment follows an exhibition held over the summer at Bowhill House celebrating the career of Bill McLaren, featuring memorabilia and the famous ‘big sheets’ from The Voice of Rugby’s illustrious five-decade career commentating for the BBC.
Linda Lawson, Bill’s daughter and director of the Bill McLaren Foundation, said: “We are very proud to have marked this magnificent anniversary in such an exciting way, especially as the re-enactment involved young people and the local community.
“The event was a remarkable spectacle, with many elements of the original game carried through in a nod to the rugby history of the whole Borders area.”
The Duke of Buccleuch commented: “History was made by all of our Borders ancestors on the Carterhaugh field 200 years ago to the day and a sporting tradition created that spans the globe. It was wonderful to see people from the local community and further afield come together to celebrate this landmark anniversary.”