5 Rugby Facts That Might Surprise You
Rugby is one of the UK’s most popular sports, coming third to football and cricket in the league of the country’s most played sports. Less languid than cricket but not quite as pacy as football, its fans are typecast as gentlemanly and a bit posh, despite the sometimes quite brutal nature of the game.
It’s a game that’s often misunderstood by outsiders, and fans in fact come from all walks of life; we’ve found a few rugby facts that might surprise you about the sport. Keep reading to find out more!
The Haka was first performed by the All Blacks in 1888
Then known as the New Zealand Natives team, the All Blacks performed the Haka, a traditional Maori war cry, dance or challenge, at a match against Surrey in 1988. The dance, intended to intimidate opposition and celebrate New Zealand’s native heritage, is now an integral part of the team’s pre-match preparations, and is hotly anticipated by spectators eager to see the latest incarnation.
Rugby is a product of the prestigious Rugby School
Named after the school at which it was first played, the history books suggest that in 1823, a student named William Webb Ellis caught the ball during a game of football and ran with it to the goal. While this fact is debated, the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup after its apparent creator. It was not until the middle of the century when schools began playing each other competitively that the sport was regulated and universal rules were observed, differentiating Association Football and Rugby Football.
Rugby balls were originally the shape of the pig’s bladders used to make them
While rugby is these days played with an oval shaped ball, in the early days of the sport it would have been played with pig’s bladders, which were more of an elongated plum shape. When they began to be stitched from leather, Rugby school requested that theirs be kept less round than the Association Football balls, and this ensures that rugby balls are easier to catch and run with and roll less, ensuring that they go out of play less frequently.
The USA is the current reigning rugby Olympic champion
Because the full version of rugby has been played in the Olympic Games only a handful of times, the title resides with the USA, who won the crown in 1924. It’s ironic, as these days the USA is not a country which plays much rugby at all, preferring the similar game of American Football. The USA is also the most successful nation in the Olympics when it comes to the game of rugby winning gold medals in 1920 and 1924 – on two of the four occasions that it was played.
People from the world of rugby make the best celebrity speakers
Okay, okay, we might be a bit biased on this one, and it’s not exactly a fact, but we think rugby players and coaches make fantastic after dinner guests at all sorts of events. Thanks to the reputation of the game they bring a bit of class to proceedings, and you’ll find plenty of people from the world of rugby on our roster with fascinating backstories and insights sure to keep your audience hooked.
Whether it’s a household name like Sir Clive Woodward, the veteran coach who led England to World Cup victory in 2003 or Sarah Hunter, the world’s best female player, we’ve got someone on our talent roster who will inspire and entertain almost any audience.