The Grudge: BT Sport Film remembers legendary 1990 Calcutta Cup

The BT Sport Film, which recalls the landmark clash between Scotland and England at Murrayfield, premieres on Friday 20 January.

Published: 4 January 2023 - 10.18am
Guscott of England (centre-left) gets to grips with Stanger of Scotland
Jeremy Guscott of England (centre-left) gets to grips with Tony Stanger of Scotland in the infamous match

The Grudge, the latest documentary from the award-winning BT Sport Films series, premieres on BT Sport 1 at 10.15pm on Friday 20 January.

The Grudge remembers the historic Five Nations rugby clash between Scotland and England in 1990, a match which saw both sides going for a potential Grand Slam. The documentary is inspired by the book, The Grudge: Two Nations, One Match, No Holds Barred, written by journalist Tom English.

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Against this backdrop, the film recaptures the momentous social and political background to the clash, using evocative archive and music, plus contributions from the likes of Sir Ian McGeechan, Jeremy Guscott and Alex Salmond as well as narration from Robert Carlyle.

The game marked the first time the two nations had gone head-to-head for a Grand Slam, while also up for grabs was the Triple Crown, the Calcutta Cup and the Five Nations Championship.

The match took place amid sporting tension between the two countries.

Just a year earlier, the annual international football fixture was abandoned after the 1989 match at Hampden Park was beset by hooliganism and unrest.

“The Grudge re-captures the spirit of that unique time”
- Sally Brown

This was a vintage England side that had swept aside all before them – demolishing France and Wales with record scorelines – led by the likes of Guscott, Will Carling, Peter Winterbottom, Rory Underwood and Rob Andrew.

Scotland were the underdogs on the pitch, and at the time of the match Scotland had just become a testing ground for the most unpopular tax in living memory: the Poll Tax.

God Save the Queen had been the official anthem of the Scotland rugby team but was booed in 1989 with the Princess Royal in attendance at Twickenham. 

A new anthem – Flower of Scotland, often seen as a battle cry against the English – was sung ahead of this game.

Sir Ian McGeechan
Former Scotland player and coach Sir Ian McGeechan features in The Grudge

The Grudge features a number of players and coaches who featured in the match, including McGeechan, Guscott, Andrew, Jim Telfer, Gavin Hastings and John Jeffrey – as well as former First Minister Salmond – to discuss their feelings in the build-up to the game and their matchday experiences.

Sally Brown, Executive Producer, BT Sport Films, said: “The Grudge re-captures the spirit of that unique time and will prove an evocative watch both for those who watched the game in 1990, and those who are new to the story.”

This is an in-house production led by Director and Producer Tom Boswell, with Sally Brown its executive producer for BT Sport.

It follows on from a compelling 2022 from BT Sport Films with new in-house documentaries broadcast across the year including After the Roar, which explores the mental health toll of retirement on elite athletes and The Boot Room Boys about Liverpool’s remarkable rise.