Every club has that one guy that thinks he knows everything about the great game, to be fair in my club that annoying prick is me. From naming the 2003 Rugby World Cup team to knowing Richie McCaw’s mum’s inside leg measurement, I as others am a font of useless rugby knowledge, and if I don’t know, I’ll just make it up, who’s going to know? But there are a few interesting facts about Rugby, and here are 10 you can spout off at club dinners to impress your teammates.
Rugby, the sport is named after the school in Warwickshire where the game was invented. We all know the story of William Webb Ellis catching the ball while playing football and running with it, though historians are still unsure whether this happened he is still thought of as the sports inventor. Let’s just be grateful it was invented in Rugby and not here;
Rugby is known for its use of the oval ball, how else would the feeble minded football fans have come up with their deeply impressive name ‘egg chasers’, I know, genius! But rugby hasn’t always had these, back in the day when rugby was just a few blokes beating the shit out of each other the balls where plum shaped and made from a pigs bladder, as time went on and the balls started to be made from a rubber inner tube, at the end of the 19th century, the balls then became round and more football like but this changed when Rugby school requested the balls be more oval to distinguish them from the footballs.
People became ill from using the original big bladder ball. Because they had no valve the balls had to blown up by the mouth and using diseased bladders would often make the blower ill. Richard Lindon, a ball maker for Rugby School in the 19th century died from breathing in air from too many diseased bladders.
Singing the national anthem before a sporting event was first done before a rugby game, totally by accident. The 1905 game between the All Blacks and Wales at Cardiff Arms Park was that game, New Zealand, as usual performed their Haka and in spontaneous retaliation the Wales team started to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’. as this happened the crowd joined in and there you go, the start of the tradition and that was the last song and dance number at Cardiff Arms Park till Michael Jackson in 1988.
The reigning Olympic Rugby champions are?? Of course that powerhouse of rugby…..oh, the U.S.A. Rugby has only appeared as an Olympic sport 4 times, Paris 1900, London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and the last time, Paris again in 1924. America are not only the current Olympic champions but also the most successful having won the title 4 years previous. Of course rugby sevens has since been brought into the Olympic roster but as far as full on rugby with fat props in the team, the U.S.A are reigning Olympic champions.
These days teams earn most of their points through tries, the act of grounding the ball over or on the try line and before the dead ball line (with the exception of the base of the post protectors), this gives you 5 points, a following conversion brings an added 2 points and a penalty or drop goal will get your team 3. We all know this, the interesting part is that this hasn’t always been the case. The original way to score was still to ground the ball over the try line, but this wouldn’t get you any points, this would get you a ‘try’ at a kick for goal. Only the kick for goal would get you the points, and this is what brought about the name ‘try’ for the modern day 5 pointer.
Only 4 teams have ever lifted the William Webb Ellis cup and been crowned World Champions. Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa. The World Cup tournament was only started in 1987, hosted by New Zealand and Australia, the All Blacks taking the trophy after beating France in the final. 1991 saw the United Kingdom and Ireland host the tournament with Australia taking the honours. 1995 had South Africa winning at home and seemingly ending apartheid in the process, or so it seems in the film, Invictus. 1999 the pesky Aussies won again on British soil but 2003 is where rugby changed and the mighty men in white led by Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson’s Adidas Predators finally lifted the trophy, and in the Australians own back yard. 2007 saw the Springboks win again, this time in France. Then New Zealand decided they’d had enough of not winning and thought they’d win the next two, on home soil and then in England in 2015.
The Rugby World Cup game with highest number of points was New Zealand vs Japan on the 4th June 1995, the All Blacks were victorious 145 points to 17. New Zealand scored 21 tries that day with 6 of them going to Marc Ellis but more impressively 20/21 conversions were kicked by Simon Culhane.
The same whistle is used to kick off the opening game of every World Cup, it is called the Gil Evans whistle and was first blown by referee Gil Evans who oversaw the game between England and New Zealand in 1905. It was also used to kick off the 1924 Olympic Rugby final, the game in which we know was the final Olympic rugby game, that the U.S.A won.
The first ever international rugby match was contested between Scotland and England at Raeburn Park in Edinburgh. Scotland came out 1-0 winners after a conversion to their solitary ‘try’. The scorer was William Cross and his name will go down in rugby history as the first international points scorer. In modern scoring methods Scotland would have won the game 12-5 as England crossed the line but missed their conversion and Scotland crossed twice only converting once. The game happened a whole 18 months before the first ever Association Football match.
I hope you enjoyed my 10 facts, if they bring you nothing at least you will be able to shut the pissed know it all at the end of the bar for 5 minutes. Thank you for reading Gain Line Rugby and if you have any interesting facts, let us know in the comments, and don’t let the truth get in the way of an interesting ‘fact’.