Greatest Team Rivalries in Sports

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Rivalry among teams are nearly as common as individual rivalries. Like the other, they can have a host of factors influencing the intensity of the rivalry, not only relating to the sport or sportsmanship, but other political and financial factors. So here’s a list of some of the greatest team rivalries across all sports!

Note: Teams here, can mean either a sporting club or a national team.

12. Old-Firm

Rangers vs Celtics – Football

Along with the Manchester- Liverpool rivalry, this is one of the most prominent and historic rivalries between Football clubs on the British Isles. The Old-Firm is collectively used to describe Rangers F.C. and Celtic F.C., the two greatest Scottish football sides. Together, they have won 100 Scottish Leagues, 69  Scottish Cups, 42 Scottish League Cups and both have achieved European Glory.

The rivalry between them historically has more than sporting factors. Rangers, their fans are traditionally seen as the true Scot descendants and are Protestants. The Celtic supporters on the other hand, are of an Irish descent, and are Roman Catholics. Both the clubs logo’s have these cultural references embedded in them. There is also a nationality rivalry factor involved, through Scots and Irish.

The difference in flags. Celtics tend to show Irish colors while the Rangers wave the Union Jack
The difference in flags. Celtics tend to show Irish colors while the Rangers wave the Union Jack

The confrontations between the two fans, have been termed as “Sectarianism”. Clashes between the supporters tend to get violent and pitch invasions are a common occurrence. The most infamous one is the 1980 Scottish Cup Final which Celtics won 1-0, but the subsequent riot saw a lot of injuries between the fighting fans. Since then, the matches between the two are set during the afternoons for easy and safer management of the crowds. Scottish league title deciders (given their dominance of the league) is avoided by proper fixture scheduling.

Fight at the Old-Firm
Fight at the Old-Firm

The rivalry has died down recently, as the Rangers were liquidated and then, reborn as a club in the 4th Tier of Scottish football, allowing Celtic to dominate the domestic scene. Rangers currently sit in the 2nd Division, although there are possible cup matches in the Scottish Cup and League Cup. Their most recent meeting was the semi final of the 2014-15 Scottish League cup, which was won by Celtic.

Overall, out of 400 encounters, 159 wins to Rangers, 145 to Celtic  and 96 draws.

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