Whilst rugby has never had the same level of exposure on TV that soccer has, it does seem to become a lot more popular in recent years. Many people’s memories of rugby are of shivering in the rain at school and praying the big guy doesn’t come anywhere you, but it’s a great game to watch from the comfort of own front room or on a website like Fox Sports, Ufakick, and Sky Sports, for example! As Rugby does seem to be getting a better deal on TV these days, for those that might be new to watching rugby, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about the sport.
- What is it called a try?
A try is called a try, because when the game was first played, there were no points awarded for touching down the ball at your opponent’s end of the field. What it did gain you, though, was an attempt, or a try, at the goal.
- The game was named after the British school that it was invented in
When soccer was being played in English schools in the 19th century, there were no formalised rules for the game and each school made up their own rule book. It is believed that a boy named William Webb Ellis, who attended Rugby School, invented the game of rugby when he decided to pick up the ball and run for the goal during a game of soccer. The Rugby Union World Cup is still called the Web Ellis Cup to this day.
- Rugby balls were first made from pig’s bladders
Rugby balls and soccer balls used to be made using a pig’s bladder for the inner. Unfortunately, the pig’s bladders weren’t cured very well and they frequently became rotten. The wife of the man, who made the rugby balls at Rugby School in the 19th century, died from the effects of the fumes she inhaled from the balls.
- The reigning Olympic Champions is the US
By a quirk of fate, the current reigning Olympic Champions in the sport of rugby are the USA and they have held that title since 1924. The reason why, is because Rugby was dropped as an Olympic sport in that year.
- There are two different types of Rugby played
Just to make it even more confusing to the non-expert, there are two types of rugby played, rugby league and rugby union. The games are very similar but the rules are quite different including a different scoring system.
- The big scores
One of the differences between soccer and rugby that anyone new to the sport will notice are the big scores. The largest ever score difference that was recorded at an international match was in a game between Australia and Namibia, when Australia won the game by 142 points to nil.
- The one hundred year old world cup whistle
At the beginning of every rugby world cup, the tournament is kicked off when the referee blows a one hundred year old whistle. It is the same whistle that was used for a game played in 1924 between England and New Zealand in the Paris Olympics.
- The rugby world cup has never been retained by a team
The New Zealand team is the favorite to win the 2015 rugby world cup and, if they do win, they will be making a rugby world cup first, because the title has never been retained by a team, since the tournament first started in 1987.
- A rugby coach invented basketball
James Naismith, a New England Rugby coach, is credited with inventing the game of basketball. It is said that he invented basketball so that his rugby team could train indoors when the weather was too bad to train outside.
- National anthem singing at sporting occasions began with rugby
The traditional singing of national anthems before an international sporting event began in rugby. It was started when Welsh rugby supporters responded to the New Zealand team’s Maori war dance with their own national anthem in 1905. The singing of national anthems before a match was then adopted officially.