In 1876 Watsonians adopted the maroon and white colours it wears today and two years later the club moved to Myreside, named after a local farm of the day. In 1877 the club became a member of the Scottish Football Union (which became the SRU in 1924). Watsonians won their first Scottish Club Championship in the season 1891/1892, but their greatest period of dominance came between 1908 and 1914 when they won the championship a further five times. After relegation in 1989 the club relaxed its membership rules and having gone undefeated in Division II they won promotion back to Division I in 1991. After returning to Division I Watsonians challenged regularly for honours until, in Season 1997/1998, they regained the Scottish Championship title. Since John Tod played for Scotland in 1884 Watsonians have fielded over seventy Scottish internationalists, including five Scotland captains and seven British Lions.
Watsonians have had key roles in all three of Scotland’s Grand Slams to date. In 1925 AC Gillies played in three matches. In the game against France he scored one try and kicked two conversions, while in the game against England he converted a try with a superb kick from the touch line to help seal victory. Against England in 1984 centres David Johnston and Euan Kennedy both scored tries en route to Scotland’s first Grand Slam since 1925. Gavin and Scott Hastings played in every game of Scotland’s successful Grand Slam in 1990. In the never to be forgotten final game against England it was Gavin’s kick through that set up the deciding try, scored by Tony Stanger, while Scott made an outstanding try-saving tackle on Rory Underwood.
More recent Watsonian Scottish internationalists include Tom Smith, Duncan Hodge, Cameron Mather, Marcus Di Rollo, Jason White, Chris Cusiter, Kyle Traynor, Steve Lawrie, Fraser Brown, Stuart McInally, Adam Hastings and Jake Kerr.
In recent years many Watsonians have been capped for Scotland Sevens including Colin Gregor, Andrew Turnbull, Mike Fedo, Andrew Skeen, Jack Ferguson, James Johnstone, Ally Miller and Max McFarland.
The women’s team was formed as Watsonians Ladies in 1998 with a nucleus of players who were graduates from Edinburgh University and friends from various other clubs including Edinburgh Accies; numbers were made up by some others who had never played rugby before. The first game was played at Myreside in August 1998 against Stirling County.
Early fixtures were also played against Lismore, East Lothian, Duns, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire Quines, GHA (Glasgow Hutchesons' Aloysians) and Hillhead.
The club progressed through the divisions in successive seasons and over the years have successfully competed in numerous Scottish Rugby finals winning the National Bowl and National Plate competitions on three occasions. In 2018 the club were runners up in the Sarah Beaney Cup final, and 2019 saw them crowned as cup champions beating Hillhead Jordanhill 21-17; this game was also the first ever women’s club game in Scotland to be televised on BBC Alba. The women currently compete in the Scottish Premiership and haven’t lost a game at home (Myreside) since November 2015.
Over the years, a number of players have come and gone from no fewer than 15 different countries. Numerous have gained full international honours for Scotland including one who went on to become an International Referee, and two who have played at the Touch Rugby World Cup. You may find it interesting to note also that MasterChef finalist Jilly McCord is also a former Watsonian!
The team proudly play with the letter H rather than a number 8 shirt which they retired in memory of club stalwart Keri Holdsworth who sadly passed away in June 2014; every member of the team also plays with her initials on their kit.
In 2019, 21 years after its formation, the team decided to change it’s name from Watsonians Ladies to Watsonians Women. The strong legacy of those who played under the banner of ‘Watsonians Ladies’ continues to be celebrated throughout the whole club.