The first ever international badminton match, Ireland vs England was played on January 31st 1903, at the Earlsfort Skating Rink, Dublin. At the beginning of January, the Irish Badminton Union issued a challenge to the Badminton Association (England) for an international match to be played on the first day of the Irish Open Championships. It was first proposed the team would consist of 3 women and 3 men and the match would be 9 games, 3 men’s singles, 3 men’s doubles, and 3 mixed doubles. The challenge was accepted by the English Badminton Association but owing to the timescale they were unable to field a full side so the teams were changed to 4 men and 2 women, and the match was reduced to 7 games, which consisted of 3 men’s singles, 2 men’s doubles, and 2 mixed doubles.
The young Badminton Union of Ireland, formed in 1899 and had instituted the Irish Open Championships in the 1901 – 1902 season, had one of its main aims to hold an international fixture which would attract some of the leading English players to Dublin, for what was then the only open tournament held in the Emerald Isle.
England won the match 5-2 and it became an annual fixture that was played alternately in Ireland and England, it was hoped that women’s doubles and singles would be included in future matches. England and Ireland met annually except for the war years, and up until 1939, the fixture took place during the course of the Championships of the host country. After 1939 the fixtures in England took place in various centres, but the Irish had always entertained England during the Irish Open Championships. The annual fixture continued right up to 1972, 56 matches in total, England never lost a match although five times the result was chronicled as a 5-4 win for England.
In the 1903 Irish Open Championships, the English players took home three of the four Irish Championships titles. In those days the Irish tournament did not include women’s singles.
Ireland and England Teams 1903 – First Ever International Badminton Match.
Standing, left to right B. Hamilton (IRE), L. U. Ransford (ENG), Miss Carroll (later Mrs T. D. Good) (IRE), A. P. Dawson (IRE), G. A. Thomas (ENG), Miss M. Lucas (ENG), J. F. Stokes (IRE), G. Lucas (ENG), Dr. T. D. Good (IRE)
Seated, Miss M. Obre (IRE), C. P. R. James (IRE), A. D. Prebble (ENG), Miss M. Hardy (ENG), W. S. C. Crawley (IRE).