Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rugby Facts

Because the Springboks are playing today I thought the below is appropriate:

  • According to legend, rugby was created at Rugby School when, during a footie game in 1823, a pupil named William Webb Ellis suddenly picked up the ball and started running with it. Sadly, there's no evidence to back this up. It's almost certain that the game actually evolved slowly as different generations of pupils tinkered with the rules of football.

  • The oldest rugby club in the world is Dublin University Football Club. Founded in 1854, it is also happens to predate the first ever soccer club, Sheffield FC, by three years.

  • Rugby balls are shaped the way they are because the original balls, made by a cobbler near Rugby School, were fashioned from pigs' bladders. These bladders naturally became oval-shaped when inflated – a grisly process which literally involved blowing into them like balloons.

  • The United States are the world's reigning rugby champions - when it comes to the Olympics, anyway. The US rugby team took the gold medal when the game was last played at the Olympics back in 1924. Rugby was dropped from the tournament after that, but there's a growing campaign to make it an Olympic sport again.

  • A "try" is so-called because the act of running over the line and touching the ball down originally carried no points and merely allowed the team to try for a kick at the goal. The rules were eventually changed to make trys, rather than goals, the best way to score points.

  • The world's first international rugby game was played in 1871 between Scotland and England. Scotland won it, but England got their own back by winning at their next confrontation.

  • The war dance performed by the All Blacks and other New Zealand teams to intimidate their opponents is called a haka. They've been doing it since 1884, and the most common haka is "Ka Mate", which was composed by a Maori chief in 1810. A new haka called Kapa o Pango – which includes a controversial throat-slitting motion - has been used in recent years.

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