THE BOTTLE MATCH
FOR OVER A CENTURY, THE UNWAVERING FOCUS OF THE RSM HAS BEEN ON A BLACK, BATTERED, METAL BOTTLE...
The annual gathering of two packs of miners all began in London one blustery December day over a 15-a-side oval ball game. Since 1902, members of the Royal School of Mines have been meeting their rivals from Cornwall, the Camborne School of Mines, almost every year to valiantly face-off at rugby - and English invention that historically has been the chosen game of Home Nations miners.
Traditionally held during the month of February, the mud-splattered fields are not the only place the teams challenge each other. As time passed, additional sports were added to showcase the diversity of the colleges, and now includes football, mens and ladies hockey, squash, badminton, golf, netball and lacrosse. Despite this, each sport maintains their own prize and therefore the winner of the bottle hinges entirely on the outcome of the rugby match, with 2017 seeing the bottle won back by our very own miners.
Due to the long-standing history of the competition and the large number of students and alumni that have been part of the Bottle Match, you don’t feel like you are winning it for yourself or even your team but for the RSM and its associates from the past 150 years or so.
- Samamtha Jones (RSM Sports Officer 2010)
While the very first game finished in an “honourable draw”, the competition - now the
second oldest rugby varsity match in the world - grew in prominence each year with both teams vying for the respect and glory of winning. Held alternately in London and in Falmouth, the game includes waggish sub-plots and shenanigans as part of the mayhem. This was no exception in 1926 when a group of RSM students ‘acquired’ a 3-foot tall tin bottle from the top of a Bass-Charrington lorry. From that day forward, it has been known as “The Bottle Match” with the proud winning team retaining not only the title, but possession of the now rather battered and beloved bottle for another year.
The hardest non-dirty game I have ever played.
- 1979 RSM Player
↑ When held by the RSM, you can find the Bottle
in its proud place in the
Union Bar among the other collections.
RSM are magic... CSM are tragic.
- The only tirade of verbal - of the many florid taunts - suitable to publish.
bot·tle match: noun \bɒ.təl · mach\ A formidable display of unapologetic violence played on a muddy pitch.
5 - 35
0 - 13
1 - 3
3 - 3
0 - 9
14 - 31
13 - 3
Previous results can be found HERE.
The game proved to be very hard indeed… Two CSM players had to be taken off concussed and one with a broken jaw. Doug McIntosh had to be led off with ten minutes to go with a twisted ankle.
- As reported in Felix, 27th February 1981
From Imperial Magazine Issue 39. Photography: Thomas Angus