Ten things you never knew about rugby

With the RBS Six Nations about half way through and the Rugby World Cup 2105 coming to the UK in September, it seems as though the whole country has gone rugby mad! For me, Rugby has always meant the memories of standing in the cold, pouring rain on a school playing field, praying that the big guy in my year wouldn't start running my way with the ball and then I’d have to try and tackle him.  As rugby seems to be dominating the TV screens in pubs and the back pages of the newspapers, here are ten facts about rugby and the 2105 Rugby World Cup.  

1. The game was named after Rugby School
Back in the 19th century, football was played in schools, but the rules had yet to be formalised and every school played to their own. Legend has it, that rugby was invented when one William Webb Ellis, whilst playing in a soccer match, decided to pick up the ball and make a run for the goal. No one really knows if the Rugby School pupil, Webb Ellis did this, but he is still accredited with inventing the game and the Rugby Union World Cup is still called the Webb Ellis Cup.

2. Why is a ‘try’ called a ‘try’?
When the game was first played, there were no points awarded for scoring a try, all it gave you was a chance to kick for goal, hence it was known as winning a try.

3. The USA is the reigning Olympic rugby champions
Although not exactly renowned as a rugby playing nation, the USA is still the reigning Olympic rugby champions and they have held that title since 1924. Mind you, that’s only because rugby was dropped as an Olympic sport after the 1924 Paris Olympics.

4. Rugby balls used to be made out of pigs bladders
Actually, both rugby balls and footballs used to have a pigs bladder as it’s inner. The problem was though, that the pig’s bladders could go off and it is said that the wife of Richard Lindon, the man who made the balls for Rugby School in the 19th century, died from the effects of the fumes from the rotting bladders.

5. Rugby Union vs. Rugby League
There are two distinct types of rugby played; rugby league and rugby union. They have different rules, a different number of players on each side, and different points scored for tries and for conversions. If you want to know all the differences you check it out here courtesy of a very lengthy explanation from Wikipedia!

6. The hundred year old whistle
Every Rugby World Cup tournament is kicked off by the referee blowing the same whistle that has been used since 1905. The whistle in question was first used in a match between New Zealand and England and it was also the whistle that was used for the final rugby game at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

7. The largest ever international score difference
Compared to football, rugby does seem to generate some, telephone number like, scores. The largest ever score difference in an international rugby match was 142-0, when Australia beat Namibia at the 2003 championship.

8. Singing national anthems before big sporting events started with rugby
The singing of national teams’ national anthems, before the start of major international sporting tournaments is believed to have been started at rugby matches. The New Zealand rugby team always does a traditional Maori war dance before the start of a game, so Welsh supporters responded by singing the Welsh national anthem at a 1905 rugby match at Cardiff Arms Park and the tradition continued on from there.

9. No team has ever retained the Rigby World Cup
The favourites to win the 2015 Rugby World Cup are the last tournaments winners, New Zealand. If they do win the tournament this year, then it will be a first, because no team has ever retained the rugby world cup since the tenements’ inception in 1987.

10. Basketball was created by a rugby coach
The game of basketball was invented by rugby coach, James Naismith, as an indoor alternative to rugby. It seems that originally, all Naismith was trying to do was to create an indoor activity his players could do when the winters in his native New England, became too harsh for outdoor sports.