Trinity Academicals RFC

Trinity Academicals RFC, nicknamed "Trinity" or "Trinity Accies" is a rugby union club based in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, originally for the former pupils of Trinity Academy, Edinburgh. Trinity Accies currently competes in the East Regional League Division Two.

Trinity Accies RFC
Full nameTrinity Academicals RFC
UnionScottish Rugby Union
LocationEdinburgh, Scotland
PresidentScotland (2014)
League(s)East Regional League Division Two
Official website


Early DaysEdit

Trinity Accies has not been a club to keep detailed records.

As a result, details from the very early days are impossible to establish. However it is clear that the club's early challenge games in 1913/14, stemmed from get togethers of former pupils of Trinity Academy (opened in 1892 as Craighall Road School) in a shelter at Starbank Park, Newhaven. These players, possibly disdaining (or rejects from) the existing "Trinity" rugby club already playing at Lomond Park, formed a team to play challenge matches against the lower echelons of existing clubs. (The "Lomond" Trinity had no link to the school. They became members of the SRU in 1903 and played in purple and white hoops. They amalgamated with Edinburgh Borderers in 1945, becoming Trinity Borderers until 1947.) Early Trinity Accies games were played at Victoria Park on an irregular basis with the club playing in blue with a red badge bearing the Leith Coat of Arms. Post War the Club changed to the now familiar black with a gold band as their playing jersey.

Between the WarsEdit

No rugby was played during the 1914–1918 war and like the rest of Scottish rugby it was October 1920 (the Season was October to March) before the club started playing games on a regular basis. However the playing strength must have been strong, or Graeme Cunningham is even older than he looks, as that season saw the club 1sts losing 3–11 to Moray House on the same afternoon as a 2nd xv were beating Northern 2nds 3–0. Between the 2 World Wars Trinity was a lower grade, fairly average in terms of results, junior club. It was fortunate, through the efforts of Frank Trotter then Executive Officer of Education for Leith (later to become one of our first Honorary Vice Presidents) to have access to a regular home ground, Bangholm, which was opened on 2 December 1920. This was subject to us raising the considerable sum of £150 to put the grounds in order. Facilities supplied by the Leith Schools Board were a rugby pitch and the use of an old wooden pavilion for changing with a wash-hand basin with cold running water. Clearly all the early players were backs with little need for cleaning facilities. Annual subscriptions were set at 5 shillings (25p in today's money) and even at that level were as difficult to collect as they have been ever since. All players had to supply their own kit and attend to their own laundry. Away game expenses were met by individual players up to a maximum 2d tram fare.

Fixtures in the 1920s and 1930s were mainly with still familiar clubs: RDVC (probably the strongest junior club over this 20 years), Leith Accies, Broughton, Boroughmuir, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh Borderers, Linlithgow, Moray House, Edinburgh Northern, Lismore, Penicuik and Lasswade. Less familiar names now largely forgotten include: Brunstane, Kenard, Westhall, Warriston, Gala Star, Edinburgh Rover Scouts, Kenmore, United Colleges, James Clarks FP, Grange, Broxburn HSFP, Balvaird and Dunedin. Away games took place at equally forgotten grounds: Forkenford, Broom Park, Ravelston, Hillend, Lady Napiers Park and Morgan Park.

Slowly over this period games were organised against the A teams of senior clubs. The earliest of these A games was Edinburgh Institution (subsequently Melville College) who beat us 13–10 on 21 October 1922. We took our revenge in October 1968...

During the period 1926–1931 the standard of play improved with the appointment as Captain of James Hossack who had played for Boroughmuir before being appointed Head Geography teacher at Trinity Academy. This led to representative recognition for Trinity players with the Edinburgh Junior side (Edinburgh and District Union) for the first time: James Hossack, then followed by T.Tait (#8) in 1929.

As early as 5 November 1929 short reports on some of our games were appearing in the press, under "The Secondary Clubs" section. On that date we beat Trinity at Lomond Park: "... with tries scored by Armstrong, Cowe and Furnivall." Ambition does not, however, seem to have been strong in the club with no real strengthening of our fixtures during this period. Our scores in 1938–39 bear this out: Lasswade 0–13, Broughton 6–5, City Police 0–38 (4g, 6t), Leith 6–6 and 3–23. Bruntsfield 3–21, Brunstane 0–8, Lismore 8–6, Dollar 0–6, Gala Star 0–9, RDVC 3–7, Barnton Pk 0–22, Trinity 8–5.

At the end of the season the Edinburgh Junior 7s saw 25 entries. We lost in the 1st round.

However the 1930s did have its bright spots:

  • Further players were selected for the Edinburgh Junior side: C.Maclean (winger), W.M.Ross (centre )and J.Sutherland (standoff).
  • By 1939 A games had been played with: Melrose, Watsonians, Heriots, Stewarts and Edinburgh Accies.

Post WarEdit

Few games were played during the 1939–1945 War. 7-a-side tournaments were played at Bangholm in 1942 and 1943 and we seem to have made some impact with a semi final defeat to eventual winners Heriots in the latter year. Indeed, one suspects that being seen to play attractive rugby in the many 7s tournaments springing up after the war helped in the buildup of senior fixtures over the period. Most senior clubs expected lower teams to beat their 2nds over a number of years before they would be considered for a 1st xv fixture. Indeed, our last game with Heriots 2nds was as late as 1961–62. Our improved fixtures also owed much to the efforts of Arthur West, one of our star players of the late 20s and early 30s. He became our long term fixture secretary, and was our first member to be elected to the full Edinburgh Committee in 1962. Improving fixtures was a slow business with a number of junior clubs also trying to break into the "unofficial championship". This was a Press led table, requiring a minimum number of fixtures with other teams in the table. It was ranked by percentage of wins against these teams. Season 1963/64 saw Trinity included in the table for the first time, and we continued to feature until its last use in 1972–73.

Few games were played in 1945–46 with former players returning from the war over the period. However, 14–6 and 24–3 wins over Fettes and 6–8 and 12–14 losses to Edinburgh Wanderers / Academicals ("Charie Maclean scoring 3 tries") suggest playing improvements since pre war. Indeed, 1946 saw Dougie Mitchell become our first full Edinburgh district player. Later Ian Gibb played scrum-half for Edinburgh in the 1950s. Dougie, who died only a few months ago, went on to become the legendary coach of the Royal High School team which was probably the best Scottish school team throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. His influence when he played for us helped develop our reputation for playing attractive rugby rather than simply grinding out results. This was important in our gradual improving the level of our fixture list. By the 1950s we had regular fixtures with: Melrose, Langholm, Stewarts, Edinburgh Wanderers, Melville College and Selkirk (who by tradition we played away on 1 January.) Fixtures were improving slowly and this was helped by our joining the SRU as a full member in 1950. The goal was always to create a fixture list which would lead to the Press including us in the unofficial championship. A strong run of results – including victories over Stewarts (in a year when they won the championship), Melrose, RHS, Selkirk and Langholm – led to our appearing in the league table from 1963–64.

Our position then was helped by Alex Harper (known as Jake for reasons unknown to Alex) having joined Trinity Academy as Head of PE. This gave us many years of players able to play attractive attacking rugby.

At the end of the 1964–65 season we were ranked 17th of the 35 teams in the championship. This was on the back of victories over Melrose, Allan Glens, Musselburgh, Langholm, Stewarts, Selkirk, Aberdeen GSFP, Leith Accies and Haddington. This was a position we maintained until the creation of the National Leagues in 1973/74.

The Arrival of the LeaguesEdit

After many years in favour of an organised league structure Trinity gave its full support to the principle of the SRU's proposal to introduce a formal system in 1973–74. We did, however, take issue with the placing of the club in Division 3 in the first year of its operation. Twelve teams were placed in each league playing each other once. Objectively our 19th position in the 1972–73 unofficial championship (see p. 8) should have placed us comfortably in the 2nd Division. Using a (fairer) long term sample of a club's results would still have left us in the 2nd Division, as only twice in the last ten years had we finished just below the top twenty four teams (see p. 27) in the old championship. However, the introduction of a subjective ranking of the strength of a club's fixtures placed us in the new Division 3, despite our protestations. It would take us two years to reach Division 2, and since then we have endured a topsy-turvey existence, while never reaching these heights again. There have however been highlights, as Promotion has been won on 5 occasions, and we were the first ever winners of the "Scottish Club of the Month" award in 1986.


These are difficult years for all Scottish clubs. We have survived when many have felt the need to amalgamate. Something Trinity resisted (with Leith and Broughton) in the 1980s, preferring to keep our identity. Adult playing numbers across Scotland are on a steady decline and we have been no exception to this trend, although we have managed to maintain a stronger position than our local rivals. The future is cloudy, but the school has continued to produce excellent players. Indeed, perhaps too good judging by the number who have been with us only briefly before moving on to play for 1st Division clubs and indeed win full District and age-group international honours. We simply have to continue to utilise the strong bonds of affection which many have developed over the years, to keep the club going. This will allow others to benefit from the lifelong friendships and memories for which our game is famous...

Representative HonoursEdit

(while playing for Trinity Accies)


  • Dougie Mitchell
  • Ian Gibb
  • Jimmy Taylor
  • Gordon Connell
  • Rab Murdoch
  • Graeme Plenderleith
  • Ian Moffat
  • Julian Vaughan

Allan Spencer ?

Scotland Age GroupEdit

  • Fergus Henderson
  • Robin Hamilton
  • Ross McNulty
  • Lewis Niven
  • Tom Drennan
  • Sam Pecquer


  • Gordon Connell (5 Caps)

British LionsEdit

  • Gordon Connell (1 Test v SA)

Championship Winning TeamsEdit

1987/88 – Division 4 ChampionsEdit

Captained by Dougie Spencer, with Jack and Dougie Hamilton coaching the side, we recovered from defeat in our first game to clinch the title in our last game. Lenzie 17- 20 L Leith Accies 12 - 9 W Biggar 9 - 6 W Broughton 26 - 6 W Hutchesons 19 - 9 W Wigtownshire 34 - 8 W Edin. Univ. 10 - 15 L Glenrothes 16 - 3 W Alloa 22 - 3 W Cambuslang 4 - 3 W Dumfries 20 - 4 W Peebles 18 - 3 W Clarkston 20 - 10 W

1993/94 – Division 4 ChampionsEdit

The season started badly for a team captained by Andy Wilson and coached by Ian Henderson with defeats in two out of the first three games. Because of this all the rest of the games had to be won for promotion.


1974/75 – Division 3 PromotionEdit

Although only second in the league this team's record is our best ever losing only one game. They gave Highland its only defeat but lost the title on points differential. Captain was Brian Clark and Coach Stan Grant.

1978/79 – Division 3 PromotionEdit

Captain was Euan Romanis and coach was Fraser Mason. We were promoted on point's difference. The final postponed game against Penicuik was very important. A Penicuik victory by more than 40 points would have promoted them. They only beat us 4-0.

Thanks to Ian Webster the club has rare detailed playing records for all teams this promotion winning season: P W L D For Against 1st XV 24 15 9 0 368 229 2nd XV 21 14 7 0 367 212 3rd XV 17 11 5 1 352 193 4th XV 5 4 1 0 75 21 Colts 12 3 9 0 124 257 17

1999/2000 - National League Division 2 PromotionEdit

Captained by Bob Rodriquez and with Fergus Henderson coming back to us as player/coach this team left it until the last game to clinch promotion. It should have been much earlier but many games were lost narrowly in the last few minutes.

Rugby Teams/SectionsEdit


The strongest argument for being the greatest ever Trinity side is probably that of the mid 60s side. Certainly their 16th position out of the top 30 teams in Scotland is the best the club has ever achieved (and this despite being the only club in Scotland crazy enough to play and lose twice to the champions Jordonhill Training College). Highlights included: Boroughmuir 14-12 Stewarts 13-9 Edin Wands 14-12 Selkirk 23-5 Haddington 21-0 Edin Accies 3-3 Musselburgh 12-11 Dunfermline 14-0 Kirkcaldy 9-8 Hutchesons 20-3 Langholm 8-8 Greenock Wands 12-3 Kelso 11-8 Leith Accies 25-16 Hawick 8-11

These players were also responsible for our largest ever victory over a Scottish senior club. In September 1968 the backs with a number of forwards making up the numbers, all played in our 65-0 win over Melville College - a 95-0 win using current scoring values. It is perhaps surprising that it took Melville another 5 years to amalgamate with Stewarts. This game took place a week after 5 of our backs played in a full Edinburgh trial. Of these Gordon Connell was our first Scottish international and British Lion, Graeme Plenderleith played for Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Rab Murdoch played for Edinburgh. The other two backs prefer to remain anonymous as we must draw attention to their failure to achieve anything else in their rugby careers (although to be fair to them they do hold the Trinity record for number of 7s medals won). Unfortunately within weeks Gordon departed for London Scottish and Graeme for Jordonhill Training College and the team never played together again.


Little had been heard of the club in pre war 7s. We played with no success in the annual Edinburgh junior tournament but did not even merit an invitation to Edinburgh Borderers 7s which ran from 1922 to 1930 at Broom Park beside the wireworks at Granton. Things were to change!

On 16 April 1945 our own 7s were won for the first time. Reports list our team as: A Fairfull, D Graham, C Hepburn, J Meikle, E Cessford, G Armstrong and J Scott, with victories over Leith 15-0, Stewarts 9-0 and Edinburgh Wanderers / Accies 8-0. This seems to have been our first ever winning 7s team although there were of course very few tournaments for us to play in before the war. Building on this base and an inflow of good players from the school we very quickly became one of the strongest junior 7s teams. Indeed, a regular invitation to the Selkirk tournament from 1948 showed us as capable of playing with the best. At Selkirk in 1948 we beat Melrose in the 1st round before falling to an all international Co optimists team. In 1947, four of what was reported as a "precocious Trinity 7" were included in an Edinburgh Junior side, which played in the Edinburgh senior tournament. Unfortunately, after they won their first tie, "howling wind and torrential rain" stopped the 7s for the first time in 24 years. At a less exalted level the club won the Edinburgh Junior 7s in 1949 beating a strong Police side (which included an international player and future Chief Constable in John Orr) 16-13 after 9 minutes of extra time. The Trinity side was: J McAslan, D Graham, D Mitchell, S Ballantine, R Calder, C Mallinson, G Easton.

With more tournaments being started Trinity continued to have many successes. Walkerburn was won for the first time in 1948 with an 11-10 victory over Hawick Y M in the final. Many wins at Walkerburn were to follow. Stirling County started its own 7s in 1948. We won the first three finals. Peebles and Moray were other venues where cups were won on a number of visits. Finally in the 60s Edinburgh Borderers revived their 7s with Trinity winning twice in the first five years. Also Musselburgh invited us for the first time - we promptly won the first two years we played. Since the halcyon years, victories have been scarcer, but wins at Strathmore and RHS have kept the tradition alive.


Over the years the efforts of Alex Harper, Alan Spencer and the long term rector Peter Galloway have kept us well supplied with players from school. The club also owes much to those, and in particular Bob Cowe (70s), Bob Cockburn and Deke Smith (80s) who have run youth teams to help bridge the gap between school and adult rugby.


Early trips to Chesterfield have been followed by more exotic tours including Burnham (England), Hanover (Germany), Juan les Pins (France), St Gallen (Switzerland), Munich (Germany) and Avignon (France). We have hosted teams from all over the world.



Trinity Accies Want You!!!!!!


An array of photos can be found here.

TARFC Centenary Dinner 1913-2013Edit

The Centenary Dinner was held at Murrayfield on Saturday 4 May 2013. A Brochure was researched and produced by Ian Henderson, from which most of this content was copied.

Brochure WelcomeEdit

Welcome one and all to the TARFC Centenary dinner, a celebration of 100 years of grown men chasing an inflated bladder round the muddy fields of Edinburgh and beyond, before inflating their own bladders with a post-match pint or perhaps two. This brochure gives a real insight into the history of the club, evoking wonderful memories for each and every one of us, who over the years have pulled on the black and gold. Or as it was before the advent of low temperature washes, the grey and pale yellow. There have been many changes over the 100 years of the club:

  • The unofficial Order of Merit has been replaced by league tables and more cups, bowls and plates than in a bull-free china shop.
  • The laws have changed - there were no replacements when Bill Burns started playing, now even his hips have come off the bench for the final period.
  • Rolling subs are now permitted with Keith Blobby's rotundity making him the ideal shape for the role.
  • Attitudes have changed too - there were no vainglorious Ash Splashes to celebrate tries in Fred Carson's day, more of a Prop Flop, and then only for 3 points.
  • Conditioning has come on leaps and bounds - the nearest Dougie Orr has been to a protein shake was cycling down Howe Street with a kebab.
  • Even Spencer Rugby Man has evolved, with the latest generation at last skilful and handsome enough to be selected to play in the backs.
  • Kit has changed, too - boots were brown, then black and are now more colourful than a Mac touchline outburst.
  • Training is more sophisticated - when Graham Hall was captain, video analysis was only for when he was home alone, with a few Kleenexes and the curtains drawn.
  • Selection too has changed - by committee, by coach, by telegram, by telephone, by text, by Lumpy's perseverance, and even occasionally on merit.
  • And then there are the hairstyles. From the Cholmondley-Warner look-alikes on the front cover to Euan Romanis’ days as an extra in Highlander, to Paul Rod as the 6th Jackson, and the School XV's Spandau Ballet look.

Some things don't change. The clubhouse endures, as does Stroudy, both outliving expectations and having seen better days. Nobody can play forever and inevitably bodies, wives or selectors tell us it's time to bin those boots. And that we are better players in retirement than in reality. And that you are a long time retired. These things are as incontrovertible as a Chris Lewis match cancellation. But the real constant for us all is our love and commitment to rugby, the game that brings us together tonight, that has given us so many memorable moments, and where we make friendships that will last for a lifetime. Have a wonderful evening.



  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)