The South is a select rugby union team that draws its players from the South of Scotland, mainly the Scottish Borders where there has always been a proud tradition of rugby union. Historically the South team played matches against touring teams visiting Scotland from abroad, and also competed in the Scottish Inter-District Championship. After rugby union became a professional sport in 1995, the team was replaced by the new Border Reivers team based in the same geographical area as the South and who wore the same colours as the old team. After a fourteen-year break The South reformed to play a Northumberland Select side on 30 December 2009.
The South played Edinburgh District in December 1890 drawing 2 tries a piece.South v North 11 December 1909 match report
Borders Rugby has many long and proud traditions. The Border League was the first rugby union league to be set up anywhere in the world, and the South team used to regularly compete against touring sides from the Southern Hemisphere.
Many Borders clubs have helped train and nurture many of Scotland’s current internationals.
As many of the Border sides, most notably Melrose, Gala, Hawick, Selkirk and Jed Forest, produced many international players and even Lions, the South proved worthy competition for the touring sides from the Southern Hemisphere. The South twice drew with South African touring sides (1931–32 and 1969–70) and twice beat Australian touring teams (1966–67 and 1984–85).
Attendances at 'South' games often numbered well into the thousands (and a crowd of 10,000 attended the Rest of Scottish Districts versus All Blacks (New Zealand) match in 1972 at Hawick) and before the onset of professionalism, The South would often play touring national sides, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa before they played the national side
The Scottish Inter-District Championship began in season 1953-54.
The South competed in the annual Scottish Inter-District Championship, playing against the district teams of Glasgow District, Edinburgh District, North and Midlands and sometimes Anglo-Scots. The district championship was played in the autumn and provided a level of representative rugby above club competition but below the full Scottish national team. The best performing players were then picked for a large Scotland squad which would form around New Year, ready for the 5 Nations Championship. Often there was a "Red vs Blues" game at Murrayfield to decide the smaller squad.South v Glasgow 15 October 1968 match preview
South v Glasgow 15 October 1968 match report
South v Glasgow October 1973 preview
South v Glasgow October 1974 preview
South v Glasgow 23 October 1974 match preview
With the advent of professionalism after 1995, the Scottish Rugby Union realised that not even the best semi-professional Scottish club teams could compete in the new Professional Era in rugby union, which was beginning to gain great momentum in the professional leagues of the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere. In an attempt to stay in touch with the leading nations the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) formed four professional teams, that would compete in the Heineken Cup and later a new Celtic League. These teams were based on the 4 former District Unions in Scotland, and a team now known as The Border Reivers began playing games in Galashiels and Hawick, the team wore the traditional white and red stripes, favoured by The South for their home games.
For subsequent history of professional teams representing the South of Scotland, see The Border Reivers. However, the Border Reivers were amalgamated with Edinburgh to form the Edinburgh Reivers, who later dropped Reivers and are now known simply as Edinburgh Rugby. The Reivers were resurrected as "The Borders" in 2002, only to be disbanded in 2007.
The South team itself was revived in December 2009 for a game with Northumberland which the South won 37–3 and in the 2011–12 season beat the Barbarians 22–15 at Hawick.
Renewed hope for a professional rugby team in the Borders came when Sir Moir Lockhead, the Chairman of the SRU, declared in May 2012 that "the Irish model is what we are trying to replicate now". The Irish model has four Provinces, much like the four Districts of Scotland in the early professional years, implying a return for the South/Borders and North/Caledonia.
The South won the Scottish Inter-District Championship 17 times outright, more than any other District.
In addition, it also shared the Championship with other Districts 10 times.
For the South's professional championship results from 1996 see Border Reivers.