Mackenzie Leather craftsmen recreate the first Calcutta Cup Rugby Ball

The Mackenzie craftsmen have tuned their skills to something a little more sporting


Instead of working leather for bags, belts and briefcases, the team have taken on an historical replication project; recreating the rugby ball used in the first ever international game of rugby, Scotland Vs England, in Edinburgh 1871.



The match marked the beginning of the Calcutta Cup, and will be recounted in a new feature documentary ‘The Great Game’. The hour-long official documentary film will tell the incredible true story of the world’s first international game of rugby, Scotland Vs England, played on the 27th March 1871 at Edinburgh’s own Raeburn Place.

As part of the documentary, there will be a reenactment game between past and present English and Scottish players on Sunday 22nd August, 2021. The players will be wearing original kit from the 1800’s, and – here’s where Mackenzie steps in – playing with the Mackenzie Leather replica ball.

Our trio of craftsmen have worked as a team to create entirely handmade leather replicate balls, using Sedgwick 1900’s leather and Webb Ellis authentic bladders.



“It’s been a fascinating learning experience, with the rugby balls getting better and better with each one we make.

A real team effort with all of us working together to understand and figure out how to make them.”



“With very little information or pattern to work from, we really had to put our heads together to problem solve!”



“For me personally this has meant a lot as I used to play rugby from a very young age. My Grandad was an inspirational figure in this for me, taking me to play every Sunday. After playing for country and district, even travelling to compete in France, a wrist injury took me out of the game.

But the love and the passion survived.”

– Master Craftsman, Simon



‘The Great Game’ documentary is being filmed and edited by the award-winning director Magnus Wake, and presented by Richard Bath. After the game on Sunday 22nd August, our ball will go on permanent display in the forthcoming Museum of International Rugby in Stockbridge.



Want to know more? Drop in and meet the team in our Old Town workshop and showroom, and see other unique handmade leather pieces.

17 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh




Leather from Abbey England (Sedgwick)
Authentic bladders from Webb Ellis

Documentary presented by Richard Bath
Directed by Magnus Wake

Editorial photography by Rose + Julien

Handmade replica rugby balls by us, Mackenzie Leather Edinburgh


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