Currie Rugby Football Club was founded some 52 years ago. Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, the club would have been publicly celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2020. In the event the celebrations had to be delayed but they did take place in June 2022.
Unlike most national league clubs in the Eastern Scotland region, Currie RFC’s origins were overtly community-based. Six rugby men - now celebrated by the 6 embedded in Currie Chieftains logo - met regularly in the Weavers Knowe pub in the village of Currie. They came up with the concept of a club ‘to promote and develop the game of rugby within the area, for the benefit of the sport and the community’, and the rest is history.
The ‘famous six’ – Bob Kirkwood, Jack Hogg, Roger McLaren, Tom Chandler, David Bisset and Alex Galbraith - were joined by Gordon Stewart and by Currie High School Head Teacher Ronnie Paul. Together they distributed leaflets in Currie, Balerno and Juniper Green announcing an open meeting to ‘discuss the formation of a local rugby club’. Thirty-five interested parties turned up on the night and the show was on the road!
The club was founded in April 1970 and played its first match against Gala Wanderers in the October of that year. By January 1971, the club was fielding two teams and by the following year a third had begun to appear.
In 1973-74 the SRU restructured Scottish rugby. In place of the then unofficial championship, it brought in a formalised and comprehensive league structure. This gave Currie RFC entry to Edinburgh District League, Division 2.
Progress and promotion followed, albeit slowly at first. In a season when the club was unbeaten and scored over 1000 points, it eventually was promoted from Edinburgh District League Division 1 to the National League – Division 7!
Step by step, the Club progressively worked its way up the National Leagues, with the skill and dedication of coaches Roy Mack and Lyn Tatham. and the huge contribution from more people than can be mentioned here. By 1983-84, Currie RFC was ‘resting’ in National League Division 4.
Then, by one of those singular events which make history, former Scottish International wing three-quarter Graham ‘Greco’ Hogg (who had played and later coached with Boroughmuir) accepted the invitation to become Head Coach at Currie. Greco (who sadly died in August 2017) had the skill and experience of international rugby behind him, but he also was an outstanding coach and mentor. Driven by his skills and ambition for the Club’s future, there was quick promotion from the Division 4 and in quick succession from Division 3.
The Club was now getting a good deal of publicity and soon was attracting players from other Scottish clubs and from overseas, whilst remaining the community club it has always been. The next few years were to seethe club mature in a rugby sense and to face some of the most well-known clubs in the country. Finally, at the end of the 1989-90 season, the Club won promotion into the Division 1, some 20 years after it had been founded.
By that time, the Club had established itself as a known destination for overseas players and, in additional to players from its region it was attracting players from many countries including New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Spain and Italy. Moreover, it had relocated!
In the mid-1970’s the Club realised it needed a ground and clubhouse of its own, so a long lease was obtained from Lord Rosebery on a beautiful piece of land, adjacent to Malleny Park, alongside the Water of Leith, in Currie’s neighbouring village of Balerno.
As things would have it, the development coincided, with the proposal to build Balerno Community High School across the river. The Club’s lease became involved in the planning negotiations and, whilst sole use was lost, a compromise was reached which secured the lease of the land for the rugby club and created the opportunity for the Club to build its Clubhouse at Malleny Park.
This project was a live demonstration of the Club at its very best. The finance was raised, and the building was erected through the members efforts. Those with trade skills undertook the building work, whilst the business managers, teachers and bankers in the club undertook the labouring tasks to which they were assigned.
Whilst the new Clubhouse provided the necessary social areas for the Club, the changing rooms, were provided through a ‘park-block’ owned by the Council. However, a change in policy released them to the Club and in 1992 that building was extended to provide the changing facilities that exist today. By the beginning of 1997-98 season these developments had been further enhanced by the completion of a first-floor extension, to provide the Malleny Lounge (now the Breakout Hub) and by the addition of a small executive lounge, the Rogerson Suite.
After Currie RFC had been in Division 1 for three seasons, the SRU once again decided to restructure the leagues. At the end of 1994-95, Division 1 was reduced from a format of 14 teams to a format of 8 teams. Regrettably, Currie was one of the6 teams to go down. However, this was to be for only one season. Under the guidance of Bruce McNaughton, and with Ally Donaldson, by then 1st XV Captain, Currie came storming back to win promotion to Division 1. And, on 11 May 1996at Murrayfield, the 1st XV ended a remarkable season by completing a ‘double’ beating Stirling County in the final of the Tennent’s Shield. To add to this, the 2nd XV also won promotion to Division 1 of the Inter-Cities 2nd XV League.
Then in August 1995, the IRFB decided that the game should go ‘open’ and become professional. So, in season 1996-97, Currie RFC was faced with the challenge of competing in this new part-time and full-time professional era. Characteristically the club responded to the new circumstances, and at the end of the season finished with its highest-ever position, third placed in Division1 of the Premiership, behind Melrose and Watsonians.
Moreover, the years that followed saw Currie RFC consolidate its position as a leading Scottish club. In 2005-06 the 1st XV reached the finals of The BT Cup, losing to Watsonians. Then in 2005-06, for the first time, the club became BT Premiership Champions – over 36 years from its founding it had risen from the bottom to the very top of the Scottish club rugby scene! What’s more, to underline the fact that it wasn’t a fluke, the club did it again, securing a second Championship win in 2009-10.
Over the period, coaches have changed with Ally Donaldson and more recently Ben Cairns, and then Mark Cairns – all successful home-grown players in their time – taking the helm. They have safeguarded the spirit and heritage of the Currie brand of rugby, determined and forceful when required but also open and free-flowing, with a certain panache.
Following the Championship wins there were one or two lean years, when the club finished in the bottom half of the Premiership table. However, by the time the competition had restructured in 2014-15 to introduce a ‘top four’ play-offstage, Currie had rebuilt. And, excepting 2020-21 when rugby was suspended because of the covid pandemic Currie has been a Play-off contender in each consecutive year. In the Currie tradition, they were consistently resilient and competitive throughout this period.
The Club has rebranded in the 2017-18 season, and all its teams, from its high-performing BT Premiership side down to its youngest Mini-sides, were rebranded as ‘Currie Chieftains’, embracing a new image for the modern era but one carrying forward the strength and traditions of the past.
The new Chieftains logos, motifs and tartan were skilfully designed to honour the ‘original 6’ as the Club’s way of saying thank you to them and their colleagues who have done so much to develop Currie Rugby Football Club over the years. Likewise, the rebranding has stayed true to the widely recognized ‘black and amber’ colour themes that the club adopted at its foundation.
The new branding was launched at a Grand Chieftains Summer Ball at Murrayfield Stadium on Friday, 25 August 2017, and has re-energising the Club, raising its profile throughout the region and beyond. It has captured the enthusiasm of Club members, team fans and existing and new sponsors, providing a renewed drive and focus for the Club’s development, whilst preserving the legacy of the past.
The 2020 covid pandemic temporarily brought Scottish club rugby to a standstill, and that has resulted in a challenging relaunch and rebuilding period for clubs throughout the country. However, whatever the future holds Currie Chieftains are looking forward to the next 50 year of its history. Famously, it is and will always remain the community rugby club founded on the idea of six men in a pub!
Apr 1970: General Meeting to form a club
Oct 1970: The first Currie XV v Gala PSA
Jan 1971: 2 XV’s fielded
1973/74: Joined Edinburgh District League
1976/77: Won E.D.U. Division 2 -Promoted
1979/80: Won E.D.U. Division 1 -Promoted National
1980: Moved to own pitch at Malleny Park, Balerno
1980/81: Won Division 7 - promoted to Division6
1981/82: Leagues re-organised, so CRFC now in Division 5
1982: Built own Clubhouse at Malleny Park
1982/83: Second in Division 5 - promoted to Division 4
1985/86: Won Division 4 - promoted to Division 3
1986/87: Won Division 3 - promoted to Division 2
1987/88: Tied for first Division 2 but lost on points difference.
1988/89: Third place in Division 2
1989/90: Second in Division 2 - promoted to Division 1
1992: Extended Clubhouse with new changing rooms
1994/95: Demoted to Division 2 due to league re-structuring
1994/96: New Stand 1994 - Floodlights1996’
1995/96: Won Division 2 - promoted to Division 1
1995/96: First Winners of Tennents Shield (at Murrayfield)
1996/97: Highest finish in Division 1 -3rd place.
1997/98: New Executive lounge opened
2000/01: Lounge refurbishment and opening of the Rogerson suite.
2005/06: Reached final of BT Cup - lost to Watsonians in Final
2006/07: Premiership League Winners
2009/10: Premiership League Winners
U18 National Cup Winners
U16 National Cup Winners
2014/15: Premiership Play-off contenders
U18 National League Winners
Edinburgh & District U18Cup Winners
2015/16:Premiership Play-off contenders
2016/17: Premiership Play-off contenders
Edinburgh & District U16 Cup Winners
2018/19: Premiership Play-off contenders
2019/20: Premiership Play-off contenders
2021/22: Premiership League stage winners & Premiership Play-off contenders.
In 2017 the club took the opportunity to refresh its branding and marketing. The club now plays under its brand name of Currie Chieftains, in tribute to those inspiring founders and supporters who contributed so much to the club’s creation and development in the early years.