Why is Rugby World Cup called Webb Ellis Trophy and who was William Webb Ellis?

The Sun Sports 1 month ago

THE Rugby World Cup has arrived and either England or South Africa will take over custodianship of the Webb Ellis Trophy from New Zealand.

The All Blacks were forced to settle for a bronze medal in the competition, having been outclassed by England in the semis in Japan.

The Webb Ellis trophy is considered the ultimate prize in rugby union

Why is the Rugby World Cup called the Webb Ellis trophy?

The trophy 20 nations will be fighting for in Japan is named after William Webb Ellis – the man believed to be the inventor of the sport.

During his days as a pupil at Rugby School in 1823, Webb Ellis was playing in a football match – but instead of using his feet, he caught the ball.

He proceeded to run it, thus creating the rugby style – and giving birth to the sport.

While Webb Ellis is often credited with its invention, the legend has been called into question on several occasions.

Among them, a former pupil of the school, Matthew Bloxam, is believed to be the sole reason Webb Ellis is considered rugby’s inventor.

A statue of alleged rugby inventor William Webb Ellis sits out his old school

This is partly because the claim came four years after Webb Ellis’ death – and 53 years after the incident – when Bloxam wrote to the school’s magazine, The Meteor.

In that letter, he claimed Webb Ellis committed the act in 1824, despite the future clergyman having already left Rugby.

A second letter sent in by Bloxam tells that it was actually in 1823.

The Sunday Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner wrote an article based on an investigation from 1895 into the origins of rugby – which declared that Jem Mackie was the real inventor.

In the piece, Rayner explains that Mackie was “the first great runner-in” in 1938-39, but was expelled for an unspecified incident.

The article recalls that Mackie’s damaged reputation saw Bloxam transfer his part in creating the game to Webb Ellis before making a sizeable donation to the school’s library to gain official acceptance over his version of events.

Who has won the Webb Ellis trophy?

New Zealand won the first ever Rugby World Cup back in 1987, before Australia beat England at Twickenham four years later.

1995 brought the famous South Africa win in their own backyard, in which former prisoner and then-president Nelson Mandela presented the trophy to Springboks captain Francois Pienaar.

Australia regained the title in Wales in 1999, before Jonny Wilkinson’s late drop-kick won it for England in 2003.

They failed to retain the trophy four years later as South Africa earned their second triumph.

But in the two tournaments since, it has been safely in New Zealand’s hands, with a narrow victory over France followed by hammering Australia last time around.


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