Ninian Finlay

Ninian Jamieson Finlay (31 January 1858 – 7 March 1936[1]) was a Scottish international rugby player.[2] He was capped nine times for Scotland between 1875–81,[2] and is generally considered to be the youngest player ever to be capped for Scotland - he was seventeen years and thirty six days old when he was capped against England on 8 March 1875.[3] He vies for this record with Charles Reid, who was the same age when capped - however, Reid had lived through an extra leap year day, when he was capped in 1881.[3]

Ninian Finlay
Birth nameNinian Jamieson Finlay
Date of birth(1858-01-31)31 January 1858
Place of birthNewhaven, Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of death7 March 1936(1936-03-07) (aged 78)
Place of deathEdinburgh, Scotland
Rugby union career
Position(s) Half Back
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
- Edinburgh Academicals
Edinburgh University RFC
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Edinburgh District
East of Scotland District
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1875-81 Scotland 9 (0)

Rugby Union careerEdit

Amateur careerEdit

Finlay attended Edinburgh Academy, which he was attending when capped.[3]

"Ninian was still a schoolboy, but was such an incredibly powerful runner, and sublime drop-kicker that he became the first real superstar of Scottish rugby."[4]

He later played for Edinburgh Academicals[2] and Edinburgh University RFC.[1]

Provincial careerEdit

Finlay played for Edinburgh District.[5]

He played for East of Scotland District in 1876.[6]

International careerEdit

The first historian of Scottish rugby, R.J. Phillips, says of Ninian Finlay, "there never was such glamour and reputation attached to any Scottish player till A.R. Don Wauchope reached the zenith of his powers."[7]

Law careerEdit

In later life he was a Writer to the Signet.[1]


Ninian was the brother of James Finlay, who was capped four times for Scotland (1871–75), Arthur Finlay, who received a single cap (1875),[2] and Robert Finlay, 1st Viscount Finlay.

In the 1875, 0-0 draw with England at Raeburn Place, all three brothers played, with James winning his last cap, and Arthur and Ninian winning their first:[4]


  1. Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1-905326-24-6)
  2. Godwin, Terry Complete Who's Who of International Rugby (Cassell, 1987, ISBN 0-7137-1838-2)
  3. Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)