The Traditional Sports in Scotland

Scotland is home to many popular sports, like golf and rugby, but what really gets people going are the Highland Games with events like tug-o-war and tossing a caber.

Haggis hurling is another popular novelty event, in which participants attempt to throw a haggis as far as possible (sometimes shopkeepers board their windows!). Music and dancing also play an integral part in this spectacle.

traditional sports in scotland


Football is Scotland’s favorite sport and there is fierce rivalry between their national teams and British counterparts. The first ever international match took place between Scotland and England back in 1872 and the game has continued to evolve ever since.

Rugby is another wildly popular sport in Scotland, often featured at Highland Games events. It is a fast, physical game requiring stamina and teamwork; Scotland’s national team is led by one of its greatest ever players Gregor Townsend who boasts one of the highest winning percentages ever seen on an international field.

Curling, which dates back to Scotland’s invention and continues to be played today, is another traditional sport and social event. Curling requires cold winter temperatures for enough ice formation for its stones to slide smoothly on, with Royal Caledonian Curling Club overseeing regulation of this particular game. Colin Montgomerie (known by many as “Monty”) being one of Scotland’s greatest curlers – winning multiple tournaments and being recognized among world best players.


Though perhaps less well-known than football, golf remains one of Scotland’s oldest traditional sports. Dating back to the Middle Ages and with over 550 courses nationwide – golf remains a beloved tradition and popular pastime both locally and tourist-wise!

Though its exact origins remain unclear, Scotland clearly played an instrumental role in shaping golf as we know it today. First mentioned in a 15th-century act of parliament and eventually banned by James II as it distracted from archery practice, Scotland can lay claim as the birthplace of golf.

Golf in Scotland has become an integral part of Scottish culture. There are certain etiquette rules to abide by before hitting the ball, and afterwards when concluding a round; one such example includes saying “have a good round” prior to hitting, as well as shaking hands at its conclusion. Being prepared by having both your club and ball ready ensures no delays from being caused during a game.


Association football, commonly referred to as soccer, is Scotland’s favorite sport and boasts over 4 billion global fans. Played on an 11-player field by teams, this game includes many rules such as players being prohibited from touching the ball with their hands during gameplay and finally ends when one team scores a goal.

Rugby is a hard, physical team sport played with the ball in hand or through kicking. Rugby has quickly become one of the most beloved team sports both in America and Australia, boasting massive popularity both places. Rugby resembles American gridiron football and Australian rules football in some respects; however, its rules differ considerably; for instance in rugby each touchdown (called a try) counts for 5 points while penalty kicks can score teams 3 more.

Scottish athletes compete as part of Great Britain in numerous international competitions and have garnered medals at various Olympic games. Scotland also hosts some of the finest tennis players like Andy Murray.


Scottish people are known to be active and enjoy competing in various forms of athletic competition, with an abundance of mountain biking trails, dry slope and real snow ski centers and state-of-the-art cycling venues as world-class facilities available in Scotland – in fact golfer Rory McIlroy has his home here along with rugby player Ned Haig!

The Highland Games are an annual celebration of Scottish culture, featuring a range of sporting events. Perhaps most renowned is caber toss, where competitors race with and carry an enormous tapered pole called a caber and attempt to flip it end over end using strength alone for maximum effect – judged based more on style rather than distance!

An Ancient Scottish Sport

The Highland Games have a rich history of strength and athleticism infused with Scottish national pride. At first, however, they may have been much more serious contests designed to identify the finest warriors, messengers, clan bodyguards, pipers, dancers and entertainers for clan’staffing.

Shinty (Camanachd in Scottish Gaelic), one of Scotland’s oldest games still played today, has an ancestral link with Irish hurling and is administered by the Camanachd Association, established during late Victorian era.

An 8-12 player team competes to hit a hard ball roughly half the size of a tennis ball with a caman stick into a goal. Field hockey shares many similarities with hurling but has some key distinctions; main one being it allows any combination of hand or foot to use when hitting or using an overhead shot to hit it into goal (subject to rules about when this can legally occur).

No one disputes that football remains Scotland’s favourite sport, yet no-one can deny that traditional Scottish game shinty offers locals and visitors alike an enjoyable way to keep fit while creating a sense of community through matches often held on natural lochs or specially constructed ice rinks. Unfortunately though, with fast moving balls hitting at high speeds and shoulder tackles not uncommon injuries aren’t unusual either!