Think you know all about the game of Rugby Football? Ann Evans has come up with some facts that may surprise you.


Pic Statue of William Webb Ellis outside Rugby School

 Statue of William Webb Ellis outside Rugby School


Depending who you support, rugby football fans throughout the world will have been celebrating or commiserating after watching the World Cup Final over the weekend. And if you still haven’t had your fill of the sport, here’s some Rugby trivia that you may enjoy.

The story of Rugby School pupil William Webb Ellis picking up the ball and running with it in 1823, was not recorded until 53 years later, when in 1876, Matthew Bloxham, a noted antiquarian and old Rugbeian wrote about this in a letter to Rugby School’s magazine, The Meteor, establishing Webb Ellis as the inventor of the running element of the sport. He elaborated on the story in 1880, and later, in 1895 the Old Rugbeian Society investigated the claim and concluded it to be true.


Pic Rugby School Warwickshire where the sport began

 Rugby School Warwickshire where the sport began


After leaving Rugby School, William Webb Ellis went to Brasenose College Oxford. As a keen cricketer he played in the first Oxford v Cambridge match. He took Holy Orders and became a church minister. He died in Menton, France in 1872. His grave is cared for by the French RFU.

Pic The oly known portrait of William Webb Ellis

Pic The oly known portrait of William Webb Ellis

The first rules of rugby union football were established at Rugby School in 1845.

A former Rugbeian introduced the game to Cambridge University. When first played, some passers-by ran onto the pitch thinking they were breaking up a brawl.

The virtues of the game, and Rugby’s most famous headmaster, Thomas Arnold, were immortalised in Thomas Hughes’ classic novel of 1857, Tom Brown’s School Days. 

The origin of half time originated at the Rugby School. After some 40 minutes the school captain stopped the game and announced it was hardly fair as his team was playing with a strong following wind. He offered the opposition the chance of playing the rest of the match with the breeze. They changed ends and half time was born. Forty minutes each way was first mentioned in the 1926 rules. 


Pic The grave of William Webb Ellis in France

 The grave of William Webb Ellis in France 

The death of a Richmond player during a practice match in 1871 prompted leading clubs to respond to Richmond and Blackheath’s call for an organisational meeting. In that same year, members of leading rugby clubs met to form the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

The first five Rugby Football Union Presidents were Old Rugbeians, as well as the first England captain.

Due to the influence of Old Rugbeians who had played in white at Rugby School, the England international rugby team also played in white – which continues today.


Pic Early Rugby Football cap

Pic Early Rugby Football cap

The International cap originates from Rugby. Boys considered good enough to play for the main teams were given ‘following up’ caps, which later developed into the international cap awarded to the country’s top players. It has been adopted into sporting terminology around the world.

Pic The first rule books

Pic The first rule books

The distinctive posts developed in the early pre-rule days when it was near impossible to kick the ball between the posts due to the number of players who packed into the goal mouth. Hence the kickers began to kick over the crossbar.