Friday, January 22, 2010

The Four Nations

The Four Nations competition involves representatives from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. The event has a long history, having its origins in the first Scotland-England International on January 29, 1895, on Talkin Tarn at Brampton, near Carlisle. There were sixty-nine teams on each side! Since 1908, the international match has been played inside, and many would consider it to be as much a social event than a test of curling. Initially it was only a matchup between male teams but in 1980 Connie Miller presented a trophy and since then the women have contested this alongside the men.

A Wales-Scotland international took place at Gogar in 1984, and when the Deesside rink hosted the return match the Welsh curlers were victorious. The first Three Nations was in the 1988-89 season.

The Irish were next to come aboard, and the first Four Nations event was held at the new Deesside rink in 1999. The four countries take it in turns now to organise the event, which is usually held in Scotland these days.

Since all the individual competitions were brought together some ten years ago, Scotland's dominance in the event has been eroded year by year. It is clear that whatever Scotland thought of the competition, the other countries were taking it seriously, and took great delight in beating the mother country. Last season, Scotland only won one of the four trophies on offer.

That may have been a wakeup call for the Royal Club which has the responsibility of finding the teams to take part. It will be interesting to see how the results go this year. Scotland is the host nation. The matches that will be played for at Greenacres tomorrow and Sunday will be for the following trophies:

Tom Ballantyne Trophy - Scotland v England - Men
Connie Millar Trophy - Scotland v England - Women
Marshall Millennium Trophy - Scotland v Ireland
Welsh Stone (Big Bertha) - Scotland v Wales
Kay Trophy - England v Wales
Turnbull Cup - England v Ireland
Hugh Meikle Memorial Trophy - Wales v Ireland