All eyes will be on Paris this evening to see whether France or Wales will get their hands on the 2021 Guinness Six Nations trophy but there is another piece of silverware up for grabs at the Stade de France.
Since 2018, France and Scotland have competed for the Auld Alliance Trophy, which was commissioned by Scottish Rugby and the French Rugby Federation in tribute to the courageous rugby players from the two nations who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War.
In all, 22 French and 30 Scottish internationals were killed in action, along with countless other club players from both nations.
It specifically commemorates the captains of the two nations in the last matches played before World War I – Eric Milroy (Scotland) and Marcel Burgun (France), both of whom perished in the conflict.
The driving force for the creation of the trophy was Patrick Caublot from Amiens Rugby Club in France, who worked alongside David Anderson QC, a great-great nephew of Milroy, in promoting the concept to both the FFR and Scottish Rugby.
And it will be contested once more on Friday evening in the final match of the 2021 Championship – where France will be aiming to win the Guinness Six Nations for the first time since 2010 but can also level the battle for the Auld Alliance Trophy at 2-2.
Scotland won the trophy the year it was commissioned by beating Les Bleus 32-26 in the 2018 Championship but France got their revenge 12 months later and lifted the silverware for the first time with a 27-10 triumph in Paris.
At BT Murrayfield 12 months ago, Scotland regained the Auld Alliance bragging rights with a 28-17 victory, so Fabien Galthié’s men would dearly love to be celebrating with two trophies this evening.
A 60CM MASTERPIECE
The physical trophy itself was designed and made by world-renowned trophy makers Thomas Lyte, using traditional silversmithing and goldsmithing skills, combined with leading edge modern methods.
The trophy stands at an impressive 60cm in height and was hand spun from hallmarked Sterling Silver, requiring a total of 110 craft hours to create.
The contemporary sweeping form of the trophy rises up in remembrance, while the clipped edge refers to lives so tragically cut short.
Around the trophy is a band of poppies and cornflowers, while the bright mirror finish applied to the sterling silver surface allows for personal reflection as we remember all those who fell.
“The Auld Alliance Trophy is a very significant commission for Thomas Lyte, commemorating an immensely sad time in our history, while celebrating one of rugby’s great contests” said Thomas Lyte Founder and CEO Kevin Baker.
“This trophy is a magnificent symbol of considered craft. I have no doubt the whole Thomas Lyte team will be watching with pride tonight, with the incredible opportunity to see this wonderful trophy lifted alongside perhaps one of our most famous trophy commissions, the Guinness Six Nations trophy itself.”