In an attempt to move on from the nightmare Calcutta Cup fixture on 11 March 2017 (in which Scotland lost to England 61-21, a score line that equalled Scotland’s greatest margin of loss against its old rivals), this author went on the hunt for some of the biggest sporting defeats in history.
A little background to life as a Scottish sports fan: it is never smooth and frequently involves a roller coaster of emotion. In this author’s opinion, that roller coaster is never more violent (and sometimes never more cruel – see the results of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match and, just over a year later, the Autumn International, each against Australia) than when one of our national sides are playing.
The range of emotions we Scots experience will, naturally, be affected by the specific circumstances of each match or event but will, in general, include:
- Cautious hope that we may win
- Certain belief that we will win
- Disbelief and fury at the referee’s decision/coach’s decision/player’s decision or error (delete as applicable)
- Certain belief that the referee has it in for us/the coach doesn’t know what he’s doing/the player needs to get his eyes checked (delete as applicable)
- Disbelief that we lost…
- … Followed rapidly by pure devastation that we lost (often termed ‘gutted’)
- Conciliation with fellow fans that at least we are Scottish, we will always have the Tartan Army and that we will definitely get them the next time
- Anticipation for the next match…
With that in mind and in a brazen attempt to move this author from 8 to 9, the following are three of the largest losing margins in sporting history (that don’t involve Scotland):
- Football: in 2001, Australia and Samoa played each other in a qualifying match for the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. The Australians scored a goal on average every three minutes and came away 31-0 winners (though there was a suggestion that it had actually been 32-0). That result and the disparity between Australia and the other Oceanic Football Confederation teams (only 48 hours prior to the Samoa game, Australia had defeated Tonga 22-0) eventually led to the Australian FA joining the Asian Football Confederation.
- NFL: in 1940, the Washington Redskins took on the Chicago Bears in the NFL Championship. The Bears ran out as 73-0 victors on that occasion, a record which still stands as the biggest defeat in NFL history.
- Rugby: in 2001, Belgian sides Royal Kituro and Soignies faced each other in a match in Belgian rugby’s top league. Royal Kituro scored 56 tries and 38 conversions (scoring on average four points every minute) to run home 356-3 victors. The result was reported to have arisen as a result of the referee turning up over an hour after the scheduled kick-off time and some of Soignies’ players, assuming the match to be off, getting back on the team bus and leaving the venue. The remaining 16 Soignies players had to play the match and secure a losing point (as opposed to leaving empty handed if they had not contested the match).
A recognition or reminder that Scotland is not the only nation to have suffered a painful loss certainly helped to clear the incredibly self-indulgent ‘pity party’ that has been the basis of this author’s mind set for the past two days. To be clear, the 2017 Calcutta Cup loss still stings. But Scotland lost to the better team on the day and, in this author’s opinion, one of the top two rugby sides in the world at the minute. Scotland have improved vastly since Vern Cotter took over (recall Cotter’s first Six Nations in 2015 where Scotland lost at home to Italy and were awarded the Wooden Spoon). If the Washington Redskins can recover from their record loss to win three Super Bowl Championships (together with the fact that Saturday’s result was only the joint 11th worst defeat in Scottish rugby history…), this author has come to the decision that we’ll definitely get them next time!