Sharon McDougall - Updated - 23rd October 2023 - 3 minutes to read
Scotland’s rivalry with England dates back over 1,000 years to the Battle of Brunanburh when both countries would regularly brawl over territory, and this weekend draws stark similarities as another set of hairy brutes from each nation go head-to-head in rugby’s Calcutta Cup.
England may have reigned victorious that day in Brunanburh but when it comes to sporting pedigree, Scotland can lay claim to the crown as demonstrated by these seven sports in which they’ve got the upper hand over the Auld Enemy.
(Note – cricket is not mentioned because we’re both as bad as each other)
Controversial? Not in the slightest. Andy Murray is a Scot and is currently ranked 4th in the world. English tennis has been in the doldrums for far too long and whilst they can finally celebrate a British Men’s Singles champion at Wimbledon following Andy’s success in 2013, the man from Dunblane is Scottish through and through. As it happens, England’s highest ranked tennis player at the moment is James Ward – 108th in the world.
Britain’s reputation in cycling over the last decade has been second to none, and Sir Chris Hoy has played a pivotal role in this. Hoy is the most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time with six gold medals and one silver. He has won more Olympic golds than any other British athlete and also has 11 world titles. Sir Bradley Wiggins comes close, but can’t outstrip the Hoyster. In less recent times, Scot Robert Millar was renowned as one of the world’s leading cyclists and to this day, is the only rider from an English-speaking country to have won the Mountains classification in the Tour de France. Millar also achieved the highest finish by a Briton in the Giro d’Italia.
Jock Stein, Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson… these names resonate not just in British football but across the world throughout the history of the game. There’s something in the fresh Scottish water that helps produce football’s most successful and iconic managers – and English counterparts just can’t compete. In fact, of the eight leading managers in English football history based on league titles, five of them are Scottish – Ferguson, George Ramsay, Busby, Dalglish and Shankly. No English manager has won the Barclays Premier League whilst there have been 14 Scottish triumphs; one for Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn and the rest with Sir Alex at Manchester United.
Martial Arts in Scotland? Ye better believe it. Scotland rules the roost when it comes to judo as demonstrated in the recent Commonwealth Games where the likes of Chris Sherrington, Sarah Adlington, Euan Burton, Sarah Clark and sisters Louise and Kimberley Renicks displayed Scotland’s notable prowess to the watching world with numerous gold medals between them.
One of the ten core sports at the Commonwealth Games represented another huge success for the Scots who ended up with three gold medals compared to England’s one. In the main event – the Men’s Fours final – Scotland’s quartet of David Peacock, Neil Speirs, Paul Foster and Alex Marshall demolished their English rivals with a comprehensive 16-8 victory.
No two ways about it; Scotland reigns at snooker. Smashing those ‘baws into the bawbag’ comes naturally north of the border as demonstrated by the likes of Stephen Hendry and John Higgins. Hendry is the sport’s most successful player winning seven World Championship titles (a record in the modern era) and has the distinction of holding the most world ranking titles (36). He has also spent more time at No.1 than any other player in history – nine seasons. Even Ronnie O’Sullivan himself admits he can’t hold a candle to Hendry, saying: “You would have to equal Hendry’s record to be classified as the greatest of all time. I can’t put myself in that league yet. To be the greatest, I think anyone would have to win seven”.
Charlie Flynn stole the hearts of the Scottish nation and the watching world with his recent triumph in the Commonwealth Games lightweight boxing. Flynn’s gold medal in the Under 60kg division has propelled him into the limelight and the professional circuit to boot. His first pro fight saw him defeat Englishman Ibrar Riyaz in Glasgow.
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