Scotland to Chile: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1945 Country Club Sevens [9 September]

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

History of rugby union in Chile

Rugby union was brought to Chile in the late 19th century; with notable bases in Santiago and Valparaíso. These two cities had a large Scottish expatriate base which helped grow not only rugby union but association football in the county.


Initially rugby union in Chile was largely an expatriate game and a base developed around three expatriate schools in the country. (These were:- the Mackay School of Valparaíso; the Craighouse School of Santiago; and the Grange School of Santiago. Their rugby union Former Pupils sides were formed later timeously with the impact of the Campbell brothers (discussed below). The Old Grangonian Club was founded in 1938; the Old Mackayans founded in 1952; and Craighouse Old Boys in 1972.)

The earliest of these schools was The Mackay School founded in 1857. Founded by a Glasgow teacher Peter Mackay, later aided by George Sutherland of Edinburgh, this school provided education for the children of many Scottish workers in the city of Valparaíso.

Sports clubs

Early rugby union sides in Chile were derived from 4 sports clubs. These sports clubs were more notable for association football and some later dropped the other sports. The earliest of these four clubs, Badminton, was from Valparaíso.

The Badminton Club of Valparaíso was founded in 1898. It played many sports including rugby union, but more notably football. Its football team packed with Scots first played a similar expatriate side Victoria Rangers of Valparaiso.

The Green Cross club was founded in 1915 in Santiago. It played many sports including rugby union, but again more notably football. The football club suffered an unfortunate plane crash in 1961 in the Andes. The side is now defunct; it moved out of Santiago to Temuco to merge with Deportes Temuco; and the football side now bears the Deportes Temuco name.

The Prince of Wales Country Club was founded in 1925. Originally based in Tobalala, it moved to Santiago. The club played many sports including rugby union. The club won the inaugural Chilean rugby championship in 1948. This rugby club was notable for the Campbell brothers. The PWCC rugby players take to the pitch to the sounds of the Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band: bagpipes, drums and traditional Scottish dance tunes.

Stade Francais began in 1929. Two clubs the French Lawn Tennis club (founded in 1917) and Sport Francais merged that year to found the club. It initially focussed on tennis, with a rugby union club the following year in 1930.

Valparaíso and the Argentine tour

When the Argentina team first went abroad in 1936 it was first to Chile and the city of Valparaíso. The 4 Sports Clubs mentioned above still had rugby union sides at this time; and Valparaíso, the historic base of rugby union in Chile, would provide the highest attendance of the Argentine tour.

The Chile national team selected on 20 September 1936 to play them was loaded with Scottish surnames:- Watson, Gordon, Kinnear, Cooper, Wylie and McIntosh.

Chileans in those years suffered from a lack of competition, which was generally reflected on the pitch. There were only 4 rugby clubs in Chile, namely: Badminton de Valparaíso and three clubs from Santiago: the Prince of Wales Country Club, Stade Français and Green Cross. The main leaders of the Chilean Rugby Union (today called the Chilean Rugby Federation) were David Blair (President) and JG Hopkins (Secretary, treasurer, captain of the national team and one of the best players on the trans-Andean team).

The Argentine tour lasted 3 matches. Argentina won all the matches handsomely. The first and last matches [against the Chile national side] were played in Valparaíso at the Playa Ancha stadium, with the middle match [against the Prince of Wales Country Club] played in Santiago at the Stade Francais stadium.

The Campbell Brothers

Not just in Valparaíso, but the Chilean capital Santiago also had a vibrant Scottish expatriate community; and one such Campbell family in Santiago provided stars of, first, association football and then, rugby union in the country.

Colin Campbell (20 February 1883 – 23 May 1972) played association football for both Argentina (1 cap in 1907) and Chile (4 caps in 1910).

Colin’s sons Donald Campbell (9 July 1919 – 12 September 1944) and Ian Campbell (born 15 May 1928) were born in Chile. They became stars of rugby union in the country. Ian began playing for his school St. Peters before moving on to play for Badminton of Valparaíso, before moving to Santiago. Both brothers played for the Prince of Wales Country Club and the Chile national side. The two brothers:- Donald, just before the Second World War; and Ian, after that war; helped cement rugby union in Chile. Ian Campbell even created a Chilean rugby union dynasty with his grandson Santiago Fuenzalida playing for Chile U20s. The Campbell brothers were inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame as the fathers of modern rugby union in Chile.

From The Times:

Two of the most celebrated figures in Chile’s oval ball annals are Donald and Ian Campbell, brothers of Scots descent who were born in Santiago and excelled in midfield for the land of their birth, to the extent that both were inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2012. Their father, Colin Campbell, was a Scottish-born emigrant who played football for Chile at the 1910 South American Championship.

Donald sadly perished while in service as an RAF pilot in Germany in 1944, but Ian is still going strong at 94 and is widely regarded as the father of Chilean rugby, having made his debut in their first post-war international and captained the side at the inaugural South American Championship in 1951.

And so, the appearance of a Scotland A team at the Estadio Santa-Laura Universidad SEK this weekend is at once representative of the breaking of new ground and a nod to history.

“The Campbells are the foundation stone on which we have built,” Edmundo Olfos, the former Chile captain who is now head coach of Chile sevens and a lineout/breakdown specialist with the 15-a-side team, told The Times. “We are a very young country in rugby but we have some history behind us and we need to do more with it.”

The late Donald Campbell and his brother Ian Campbell were inducted at into the IRB Hall of Fame in May 2012. Ian Campbell was present at the induction and Donald was represented by his son, Colin.

Ian Campbell, born 15 May 1928 in Santiago, was fly half, centre and captain of both the Santiago “Prince of Wales” Club and the Chile National team. He started playing rugby towards the end of the Secord World War at Saint Peter’s School in Valparaiso, following in the footsteps of older brother Donald, who also represented both sides with distinction.

Ian and Donald were of Scottish descent, the sons of Colin Campbell, businessman and amateur soccer player, who represented Chile in the 1910 Soccer South American Championship.

Donald Campbell made his debut against Argentina in Buenos-Aires in 1938 as  a fast and powerfully built centre. The match was Chile’s third international and he played once more for his country before volunteering to join the Royal Air Force as the Second World War took hold. Donald died in action in 1943, while his teenage brother Ian was cutting his teeth in the intensely competitive Santiago rugby scene.

By the end of the war the young Ian Campbell had established himself as an influential midfield playmaker and in 1948 he was selected to play for his country against Uruguay in what historically is regarded as the first match between the two South American neighbours and arch-rivals.

The match, played at the “Gimnasia & Esgrima” club at the Jorge Newbery rugby ground, was a curtain-raiser to the main attraction, the ‘test match’ between the visiting Oxford & Cambridge side and Argentina. It was a baptism of fire for the 20-year old, who never lost to Uruguay during his 15 year stint with the national team.

Second only to the Pumas 

In 1951 Campbell led Chile to a well-deserved second place in the first ever South American Championship at the very same “Gimnasia & Esgrima” rugby ground in Buenos Aires and Chile’s pluck and enterprise against hosts Argentina earned them fixtures against overseas visitors.

A year later Campbell played against the Irish captained by DJ O’Brien and in 1954 he led Chile against Paul Labadie’s French tourists. In 1956 Chile entertained Oxbridge in Santiago and then Campbell again led them to the runners-up spot in the 1958 South American Championship. It was a period of Chilean rugby that yielded regular victories over Uruguay and offered a stern test to the more heralded Argentinians.

In the third South American Championship in 1961, Campbell’s last year with the National team, Chile again finished runners-up to Argentina, losing 11-3 in a match some observers felt Chile could and should have won. Uncharacteristically, Campbell missed five penalties, which as he acknowledged, made the difference in the final. At the time, he was described as the most skilful player in South America and a brilliant leader of men.

Some felt Campbell’s international retirement was premature but he did carry on playing week-in-week-out for the “Prince of Wales CC” club he held so dear. He eventually retired in the mid-1970s and tried his hand at coaching but, to his own admission, it was playing the game that kept him going. He would describe himself as a compulsive rugby player so he carried on playing, well into his 50s and 60s, supported by his musician wife Betty. Their marriage produced six children, five daughters and one son and fifteen grandchildren, three of whom play rugby: Santiago Fuenzalida, Joaquin Rodriguez and the youngest Cristobal Fontecilla. Santiago Fuenzalida, the son of their second daughter Laraine, represented Chile in the recently concluded Junior World Rugby Trophy in Santiago.

Ian, who was eight years Donald’s junior, started playing senior rugby at 17 and played for Prince of Wales for nearly 30 years. Also a centre, he made his international debut at 20 in what was Chile’s first post-Second World War international, which was also its first ever clash with Uruguay, in 1948.

He was made captain of Chile at the inaugural South American Championship in 1951 and retired 10 years later, after 14 years of Test rugby. During the 1950s he was acknowledged by both team-mates and opponents alike as perhaps the most skilful player in South America and an outstanding leader of men.

Widely regarded as the father of modern Chilean rugby, Ian appeared in every international match the country played between 1948 and 1961. During that time, he played with distinction against some of the leading teams of the era, including the touring Irish in 1952, the French in 1954 and 1960 and Junior South Africans in 1959.

One of Ian’s grandsons, Santiago Fuenzalida, played for Chile Under 20 in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2008 in Santiago but was tragically killed in a car crash later that year.

On his induction and that of his late brother, Ian Campbell said: “This is a huge honour for me and I couldn’t be more pleased at the fact that Donald has been included in this induction as well. He was my sporting hero. So much so that as a young boy all I wanted was to be able someday to play rugby, cricket or hockey (at all of which he excelled) with him when I grew up.”

Ian Campbell’s roll of honour:

Place of Birth: Valparaíso, Chile
Rugby Beginnings: Saint Peter’s School, Villa Alemana
Clubs: Badminton Sports Club; Prince of Wales Country Club (PWCC)
Foot: Ambidextrous
National Titles: 13, all with PWCC (1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971)
First Division Debut: 1945 (15 years)
Retired: 1962 (international selection); 1971 (club)
Debut Chile XV: September 5, 1948
Chile 21-3 Uruguay, in Buenos Aires (first victory of the Cóndores against the Teros)
Caps : 13
Total points: 43
Tries: 9
Conversions: 2
Penalties: 4
Palmarés Chile: South American runner-up 1951, 1958 and 1961


It was the Prince of Wales Country Club that first organised the first Sevens tournament in Chile on 9 September.


• UC

• Stade Francais

• Grange School


• University of Chile

• Coyotes

• Old Grangonians

The Prince of Wales Country Club won the tournament defeating University of Chile 16-0 in the final.

National team

The Chile Sevens national side were first invited to a Sevens tournament in Paraná, Entre Ríos in Argentina in 1987.

Scotland to Namibia: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1987 Windhoek United Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Windhoek United Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

Its oldest sevens tournament, run by Windhoek United RFC is only seven years old. [Book published 1994]

Scotland to Romania: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1985 Bucharest Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Bucharest Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The first sevens tournament to be held in Romania took place in Bucharest in 1985.

Scotland to Samoa: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1920 Maarist School Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Maarist School Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The country became a British protectorate in 1914 under the administration of New Zealand, and within 6 years the first sevens were being played at Maarist School.

Scotland to Spain: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1955 Madrid University Sevens
1987 Benidorm / Costa Blanca Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Madrid University Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The first sevens tournament was held at Madrid University at 1955.

Benidorm Sevens

The first Benidorm Sevens tournament was staged in 1987. It was won by the Scottish side Gala Y.M.

Scotland to South Africa: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1973 Ford Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Ford Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The first domestic tournament did not take place until the Ford Sevens were held in Pretoria in 1973.

Winfield Sevens

The Winfield Sevens is a national tournament for South African provincial teams.

Scotland to Japan: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1959 YC & AC Sevens (Yokahama Sevens)
1993 Tokyo Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Japan’s introduction to rugby union

Scotland had an organised football club in 1824 (simply known as the Foot Ball Club), but it played a hybrid association-rugby type game. The initial rules of the rugby code came to Scotland by the 1850s; the Story of Scottish Rugby by R.J. Phillips stating that it was in Scotland by 1851; with Edinburgh Academicals being formed in 1858. (That rugby code was later modified by The Green Book; the Blairgowrie and Rattray Laws; and the Kilmarnock Rules; into the rugby union recognisable today.)

Only a few years later, rugby union came to Japan in the 1860s, introduced by Scots. There is a possibility of the game being played in 1863, but it is firmly being played in Yokohama by 1866.

Scotland is credited with introducing rugby to Japan. For many it was believed that rugby was first played in Japan in 1899. However, research by Japan rugby historian Mike Galbraith revealed that two Scots, Lord Walter Kerr, who was to become Britain’s senior naval officer, and George Hamilton, who was educated at Rugby School in England, had played pivotal roles in bringing rugby to the country in the 1860s at Yokohama Football Club.–spt.html

For the 1863 possibility: there is a note in a 1908 Australian newspaper in which Harry Rawson, Governor of New South Wales, “recalled playing in the first cricket match played in Japan in 1863, a remarkable feature of which was the fact that half the players were playing football.” However it is not known whether the football played was association or rugby union.

Even this 1863 cricket match – with some players playing football – is Scottish influenced. That first Japanese cricket match heavily features James Campbell Fraser (1840-1913), a Scottish insurance merchant in Japan.

However the rugby union history of Japan is more concerned with his brother Evan James Fraser, and his Scots friends George Hamilton and James Mollinson; and the Mollison Shokai building (No. 48) where Scots concentrated and where they worked.

For Japan’s rugby union history we are on much firmer ground with the establishment of Yokohama Football Club on 26 January 1866. It was James Mollinson who founded Japan’s first rugby club; and George Hamilton became its captain.

“More than forty names have been put down as willing to support a Foot ball Club,” says an editorial in The Japan Times, and “as we happen to have two or three Rugby and Winchester men in the Community, that we may be certain that we shall have really good scientific play.”

From Britain and Japan by Mike Galbraith:

Yokohama. The Building no. 48

Kanagawa Prefecture’s oldest surviving Western structure is the remnant of the ruined building, currently named Mollison Shokai or Mollison & Co., located at the corner of a block of land now called No. 54, which absorbed No. 48. It is a Kanagawa prefectural cultural asset with protected status. The Mollison in the Mollison Shokai name was James Pender Mollison who lived in No. 48 for many years from 1868. There used to be two buildings at No. 48; what remains is part of the office but adjacent to it was a residence. The two buildings were the home and work place of a group of prominent Scottish businessmen who also played an important role in the sports scene in Yokohama for most of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Unsurprisingly the Mollison Shokai building, the workplace of Scots in Yokohama, saw Scots bringing their sports to Japan. Galbraith notes 3 such Scots below:- James Mollison, George Hamilton and Evan James Fraser.

In 1867 or very early 1868, George Hamilton arrived. Hamilton was Scottish and had studied at Rugby School, the famous English public school where, in 1823, William Webb Ellis supposedly first ran forward carrying the ball, thus creating the sport of rugby.

James Mollison, who founded the Yokohama Cricket Club in mid-1868 together with Hamilton, described Hamilton as “captain of the Yokohama Rugby Team.” Hamilton worked in the same office as Mollison and, in around 1870, Evan James Fraser, another Rugby School alumni from Scotland, arrived to manage the same office. Fraser, like Hamilton, was an excellent all-round sportsman.

James Pender Mollison (born 21 July 1844, Glasgow – died 22 November 1931, Kamakura), born to William Mollison and Margaret Pender. He married Isabella Duff.

George Hamilton (born 24 November 1844, Glasgow – died 15 September 1929, Manhattan) born to William Hamilton (1806-1866) and Margaret Buchanan Henderson (1819-1850). He married Bertha Torrance (1861-1963) in 1885 in New Jersey, USA. They had 2 girls Amy and Peg; and 2 boys Minard and Kenneth.

In 1870, Mollison and Hamilton were joined by Evan James Fraser.

Evan James Fraser (9 April 1847, Skipness, Argyll – 8 November 1911, Manhattan) [also known as Evan James Fraser-Campbell; his mother was a Colquhoun Campbell and he changed his surname by deed poll in the USA in 1889 to obtain Dunmore.] He came to Japan to work with his brother James Campbell Fraser. His brother ran J. C. Fraser & Company, insurance merchants. Evan moved to New York in 1878, marrying Edna Arnold in 1881 and they had 3 sons. He was the proprietor of Dunmore in Argyll.


This text is from Bernd Lepach’s Meiji Portraits:

[Evan James Fraser] came to Japan in 1870 and was employed by J. C. Fraser & Co., Insurance Merchants, Yokohama # 48. He worked with this firm until 1876, from 1874 as Manager, when J. C. Fraser retired. In 1875 this firm additionally included the tea export with tea-firing. In 1877 he established in partnership with James P. Mollison the firm Mollison, Fraser & Co., Yokohama # 48. From the very beginning James P. Mollison managed the firm in Japan and Evan J. Fraser stayed in GB. He never returned to Japan, in 1883 he sold his shares to J. P. Mollison, who, from 1884 on, operated under Mollison & Co., Yokohama # 48.

[George Hamilton] came to Japan around 1870 on behalf of J. C. Fraser & Co. and was employed in the Yokohama branch # 48. He worked for the company until early 1875, when he managed to secure a contract with the Japanese government, Ministry of Public Works, to work as a teacher at the preparatory school of the engineering school. His contract began on July 1, 1875 and ended on April 30, 1877.
In 1876, JC Fraser went out of business. His brother Evan James Fraser founded Mollison, Fraser & Co. in partnership with James Mollison in 1877 at Yokohama # 48, and George Hamilton worked for this company after his teaching position. In 1884 the partners separated and James Mollison continued to run the company under Mollison & Co., Yokohama # 48; George Hamilton became his partner. In 1885 he left Japan and settled in New York, where he worked for the company until 1892. After that, his traces are lost. George Hamilton was an active member of the Yokohama Cricket & Athletic Club (YC & AC)
in the 1870s. He not only worked as a secretary for many years, but was in particular an active, all-round sportsman, especially in rugby, cricket, football, rowing, etc.

Yokohama Sevens

The Sevens tournament was first run by the Yokahama County and Athletic Club in 1959. This is the same club founded by James Mollinson in 1866. Since 2012 it has been also sponsored by the Japan Rugby Union.

Tokyo Sevens

The Tokyo Sevens tournament began in 1993. Meiji University won the tournament in 1993, and Suntory won it in 1994. It became an international tournament in 1995 with Fiji running out winners . It is also known as the Japan Sevens.

Scotland to Italy: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1974 Algida Sevens
1980 Dorigo Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

Algida Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The Algida side from Rome were the first organisers of a seven-a-side tournament in Italy in 1974.

Dorigo Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

In 1979 Carwyn James, the then Dorigo coach, persuaded his club to launch a sevens tournament. London Scottish, captained by Mike Biggar, won the first event in 1980.