On 26 February 1921 Ireland’s rugby and football sides played host to Scotland in major international fixtures north and south of what was soon to become the Irish border. In Belfast, over 30,000 football fans packed into Windsor Park to watch a poor Ireland team succumb to a 2-0 defeat to Scotland in the British Home Championship, an annual tournament between the UK’s four ‘home nations’ which ran between 1883 and 1984. On the same afternoon at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road, Ireland fared significantly better in what was an equally drab affair, beating Scotland 9-8. Ireland’s 6-0 loss to Wales two weeks later at Balmoral was the first major international to be played in Belfast since the outbreak of the First World War.
‘Scots Beaten at Dublin’, Belfast News-Letter, 28 February 1921
Ireland 9-8 Scotland
By virtue of the superiority of the forwards Ireland beat Scotland on Saturday at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, by the narrowest possible margin. The Irish pack, though not so weighty as the opposing eight, succeeded in not only holding them, but also in beating them for possession. On the whole the game was not one of the most brilliant of the series, and the Irish backs did not avail themselves of all the opportunities presented. The match attracted a huge crowd to the Irish Rugby Union headquarters, and the spacious enclosure was packed. All the conditions were favourable to a fast game, the playing pitch being in excellent condition, and the weather fine.
‘Scots Two Up: Irishmen Give a Poor Display at Belfast’, Sunday Independent, 27 February 1921
Ireland 0-2 Scotland
Ireland, although only beaten by two goals to nil by Scotland at Windsor Park, Belfast, yesterday, in the 33rd game between the countries, gave a most inglorious display, and, except for a brief period at the start of the second half, were hopelessly outplayed, and had it not been for some brilliant goalkeeping by Scott and resolute tackling by Smith, the Cardiff City centre-half, must have been further in arrears by the finish. In fact, in stating that Scott carried the Irish team on his shoulders, it is only giving credit where credit is due, and he was decidedly unfortunate, after saving Wilson’s penalty kick, to be beaten from the rebound by Wilson, who had followed.
A Poor Game
For an international, witnessed by an attendance that represented a gate of £1,950, it was one of the poorest ever witnessed and utterly devoid of interest or enthusiasm and if the Scottish team played the better football, and certainly had two-thirds of the game, with a few exceptions, their display was by no means convincing, and had our wing, halves, and inside forwards only rose to the occasion they would not have had the easy time they did.