Britain has given the world some of its favourite sports – like soccer, tennis, golf, cricket and, of course, rugby.On the eve of this weekend’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) final at Twickenham, as the Wallabies take centre stage against the reigning World Champions, the All Blacks, VisitBritain has compiled a list of 10 things you may not know about the home of rugby (#HomeofRugby).
The information is timely, with thousands, possibly millions, of Aussies and Kiwis preparing to watch the RWC final. It screens at the unearthly hour of 3am AEDT on Sunday.
Prince Harry, honorary president of England Rugby 2015, will present the Webb Ellis Cup to the winners of Rugby World Cup 2015 at Twickenham Stadium.
Here are the 10 things you may not know about the game – and if there are any questions, let us know and we’ll forward them VisitBritain!
- The first ever international rugby match took place between England and Scotland played in Edinburgh, 1871.
- The Welsh rugby team were the first to ever sing their national anthem before a game in response to New Zealand’s famous Haka dance in Cardiff, 1905. This reaction was the start to the tradition of singing national anthems before major sporting events.
- Rugby is the national sport in three countries; Wales, New Zealand and Madagascar. Britain’s national sport is cricket, which is often over looked by our most popular sport – football.
- This weekend’s Rugby World Cup Final will be held at Twickenham – the world’s largest rugby-devoted stadium.
- No team has ever won two Rugby World Cup tournaments in succession – yet. Can New Zealand end this in 2015?
- The same whistle is used to kick off the opening game of every Rugby World Cup – it was first blown by a Welsh referee as he oversaw a match between England and New Zealand in 1905.
- The game originated when Rugby School pupil, William Webb Ellis, picked up the ball in a football match and ran with it instead of kicking in 1823.
- Two butchers created the Rugby Sevens in 1888 in Melrose, Scotland.
- Basketball is said to have been originated by a rugby coach in 1891 as he wanted an indoor sport to keep his rugby players fit during the winter.
- England Rugby 2015 estimates two million spectators have viewed the 46 RWC2015 matches hosted to date in 13 venues across England and Wales. Over 900,000 fans have visited the official Fanzones in the host cities and Rugby.
UK Fanzones and Screenings
All Black supporters and Wallabies fans already in Britain can soak up the rugby atmosphere at one of the official Rugby Fanzones in London including Trafalgar Square, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Old Deer Park in Richmond, only 20 minute walk from Twickenham. There are also sites in Rugby and Exeter. With free entry, food stalls and a tournament buzz, the FanZones are a great base for fans and families.
Breweries, pubs, parks and even rooftop venues in central London are also hosting finals parties this weekend for rugby supporters and sporting novices alike. See full list below.
There are plenty of other ways rugby fans can take in years of sporting history across Britain including visiting one of the dedicated rugby museums. The Webb Ellis Rugby World Football Museum in Rugby has 160 years’ worth of memorabilia and artefacts on display while the World Rugby Museum in Twickenham houses 25,000 objects in its permanent galleries.
Sport is GREAT
Britain is home to the oldest and prestigious tennis tournament, Wimbledon, tracking back to the 19th century. Cricket is also thought to have originated in England as far back as the 12th century. And Scotland is home to the modern game Golf, with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews founded in 1745.
Aside from Britain’s rich history of traditional sporting pursuits, the nation plays host to a range of weird, wacky and wonderful sports;
- International Worthing Birdman, involving human-powered flying machines!
- World Bog Snorkelling Triathlon Championships which aims to run eight miles, navigate two lengths of a 60-yard murky trench and then a 12 mile bike ride!
- River football, the World Gravy Championships, Ramsbottom World Black Pudding Throwing Championships and Race the Train are just some of the other unusual sports played in Britain.
Click here to download a VisitBritain PDF brochure on Sport is GREAT.
Edited by Peter Needham