The Scotland A team are the second national rugby union team behind the Scottish national side. The first Scotland ‘A’ fixture took place in 1990.
Unlike association football, where the main team is supposed to be the “A” team, Scotland ‘A’ in rugby union is actually equivalent to the Scotland B football team. The Scotland ‘A’ side in rugby union is classed as a senior national side, along with the full national side and the Scotland 7s international side. When players play for any of these 3 senior sides; they commit their nationality to Scotland; and cannot then normally switch nationality to another international side. The parlance used deems these sides as ‘capture’ sides.
There was a history of national development sides in Scotland before the national ‘A’ side was introduced. The non-cap Scotland XV side started in 1969, the Scotland ‘B’ side introduced in 1971 was for uncapped players; and the start of the age-grade pathway sides – like the Under 21 side – which began in 1984.
Scotland’s status as one of the leading rugby nations in the Northern Hemisphere, made the SRU look to field a second team, first known as Scotland XV, which can play at the same level, sometimes even superior, of many second and third tier nations first sides. This team was a development side and players selected were not given caps and not tied to Scotland.
The Scotland XV first played in 1969, beating an Argentina side 20 – 3. These non-cap matches have proven controversial and there was a campaign to get players that were capped by the Scotland XV side as full caps. However the campaign failed; and these XV matches remain non-capped matches.
The launch of the Scotland ‘B’ side in 1971 provided uncapped players another route for recognition; this was a development side; no fully capped players were eligible. Like the Scotland XV side before it, this was not a ‘capture’ side.
The start of the Scotland age-grade teams in 1984 – on the launch of the national Under 21 side – were another pathway. Age-grade sides are not intended to be ‘capture’ sides; and their use as capture sides up to and including the Under 20 age-group range has now been banned by World Rugby.