To mark the start of the Rugby World Cup,  we thought we would share some amusing facts about the ‘gentlemen’s sport’.

The sport is named after a school

Rugby School in Warwickshire, UK, is best known as the birthplace of the sport that bears it name. It was originally played rather like soccer until pupil William Webb Ellis first ran with the ball in 1823 – although it took several years for this rule to be accepted.

There used to be 100s of players!

There was 75 players on one side and 225 on the other team for a match at Rugby School when Queen Adelaide visited in 1839. Back then, there were no limits to the number of players on each side.

1871 – the first international was played

In January 1871, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was founded – with two sub-committees to write the laws of the game and the second to select a team to play the Scottish members of the union who had challenged the English members.

The first recognised international football game, of any code, took place later that year. Scotland won.

England won the World Cup with 26 seconds to go

Back in 2003, England left it late to secure one of the most famous victories ever. Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal with just 26 seconds of the game won England the game 20-17.

Half time

This originated at Rugby School when one of the team’s captains halted the game after around 40 minutes, saying it was unfair as his team was playing with a strong following wind. He offered to swap ends, and so was born half time.


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