10 amazing facts about rugby
Rugby, without doubt is one of the world’s greatest sports. Played by tough tackling men and watched by millions… Many of who still don’t know the rules (and yes, we’d include some World Cup referees in that), in fact many fans might not know all they should. To build up your own personal rugby fact file here’s a few weird and wonderful facts about ‘chasing the egg’.
1. The mysterious origins of the oval ball…
While modern balls are made of high tech materials and often spend months in design, the first ever balls were made by a rather creative man called Richard Lindon out of pig’s bladders covered in leather panels.
2. …and the tragedy of it
However the hand pump and valve had yet to be invented Lindon’s own wife had to blow up the balls by mouth. Tell that story to the next lady you hear moaning about washing the team kit. Then run you crazy fool!
3. The Greatest
The incomparable All Blacks are the only team to have retained the World Cup having won it in 2012 and 2016.
4. Unlikely Olympic champions
Rugby hasn’t been an Olympic sport for 91 years. So who do you reckon the reigning Olympic champions are? Nope, not England, Wales, Australia or even New Zealand. It’s America. Yep, the US of A are the reigning Olympic rugby champions. Why we didn’t make it an event at London 2012 is beyond us!
5. Historic whistles
The same whistle is used to kick off the opening game of every rugby world cup. It’s called the ‘Gil Evans whistle’ and was shockingly first used by a welsh referee called Gil Evans all the way back in 1905. We can’t decide if that’s a really nice tradition or just really unhygienic.
6. Go on, give it a try
These days we know a try as something that is confusingly worth five points instead of three. However there was a time in the history of rugby where a try was worth, well, nothing. After battling to touch the ball down at the opposing teams end you were given a chance to ‘try’ to score a conversion. Thankfully they made it a little more worthwhile!
7. Inaugural disappointments
England actually featured in the first ever international rugby match against Scotland… and lost, in true English fashion. Scotland won 1-0 by converting an old fashioned try, but they would’ve won 12-5 even by today’s standards. Ho-hum.
8. A sporting tradition is born
These days we’re used to watching ‘God Save the Queen’ playing before any British/English sporting event. But it wasn’t always the case. The tradition was actually started by England’s noisy neighbours Wales, whose national side sang spontaneously in response to one of New Zealand’s infamous Hakas. Miraculously, the crowd caught on and began to sing as well. This began a worldwide tradition that is practiced in pretty much every sport going. Impressive.
9. You’re welcome, Michael Jordan
We think that NBA legends like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal should pay a bit more attention to rugby, because if rugby didn’t exist then basketball wouldn’t either! It’s widely believed that the inventor of B-ball, Dr. James Naismith actually invented the game as a way to keep rugby players fit in the winter months!
10. The football rebellion that started it all…
Rugby’s humble beginnings come from the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. A student called William Webb Ellis picked up the ball in the middle of a footie match and just ran at the opponent’s goal. Just goes to show that sometimes, ignoring the rules isn’t a bad idea. Although we wouldn’t make that argument if you’ve just two footed a striker without getting the ball!