Although its proponents often claim an ancient origin, haggis hurling is actually a very recent invention. In 2004 Robin Dunseath, publicist for Scottish entrepreneur Tom Farmer and ex-president of the World Haggis Hurling Association, said he invented the sport as a practical joke for the 1977 Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh, later using it to raise funds for charity at Highland games. It appeared on the BBC TV programme That’s Life! around that time, when many people would have realised it was a novelty event.
Two variations have developed, one enacted at festivals, the other a professional sport.
Modern Haggis Hurling is judged on the basis of distance and accuracy of the hurl and a split or burst haggis is immediately disqualified, as the haggis must be fit to eat after landing. The sport requires subtle technique rather than brute force, as the hurl must result in a gentle landing to keep the haggis skin intact.
The haggis must be of traditional construction, consisting of a tender boiled sheep’s heart, lung and liver with spices, onions, suet and oatmeal and stock stuffed in a sheep’s paunch, boiled for three hours.
At the time of hurling the haggis should be cooled and inspected to ensure no firming agents have been applied. Rules dictate that the haggis must be packed tight and secure, with no extra “skin” or “flab.”
The sporting haggis weighs 500grams, with a maximum diameter of 18cm and length of 22cm. An allowance of ±30grams is given and this weight is used in both junior and middle weight events. The heavyweight event allows haggis up to 1kg in weight, but the standard weight of 850grams is more common, with an allowance of ±50grams.
Cringletie Hotel and Forsyth of Peebles have kindly agreed to sponsor the novelty Haggis Hurling competition at the Games.