In December 1871, the first ever rugby international in Ireland was held. One source says the match took place on 18th December. But Saunders’s News Letter (a Belfast newspaper) in it’s edition of Saturday 23rd December 1871, says that the game was taking place later that same day. The match was between the North of Ireland and the West of Scotland.
The newspaper says: “The international event, which is earning a good deal of interest, will come off to-day on the ground of the North of Ireland Cricket Club, Ormeau Road, Belfast. We believe it will be the first rugby match between Irish and Scotch teams, and, so far as are aware, the sides are fairly matched.
North of Ireland and the West of Scotland Rugby Lineups
The Fifteens will be selected from the following gentlemen North of Ireland — Messrs. A Combe (Captain), Heyn, Bell, Gordon, J. Torrens, T. Torrens, Andrews, McIlwaine, J. Bottomley, H. Bottomley, W. Orr, Murphy, Boyd, McGee, Kelly, Hamilton, and Workman.
West of Scotland – Messrs. J. Anderson, R, McClure, J. H. M’Clure, G. Hunter, Robertson, Kidston, Russell, Robinson, M. Hunter, R, Hunter, Arrol, Murland, Campbell, Englisham, Kennedy, Macfarlane, and Best.”
Subsequent reports say the West of Scotland were victorious.