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Eight rugby facts you NEVER knew about Rugby Union

The game of rugby is believed to have begun in 1823 after Rugby School pupil William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a game of football and ran with it.

Since then the game has taken many strange twist and turns, some of which you possibly haven’t heard of. Below are 7 facts about the game of rugby that you probably didn’t know;


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1. Ever wonder why rugby balls are oval? Hope you’re food’s digested for this one. The first ever rugby balls were made by a Richard Lindon who fashioned it out of hand stitched leather casing and pigs’ bladders. Apparently, pigs’ bladders naturally take on an oval shape. Hmm, so does that make it edible? The trademark oval ball only took over from the spherical ball they’d originally used in 1892. 
2. Basketball was actually created by a rugby coach who wanted some form of indoor sporting activity to keep his players conditioned when it was off-season!
3. Rugby was actually introduced to the Springboks by the British troops who were stationed in Cape Town.
4. A try originally gave a team no points. When it was first introduced the only way to score was by kicking a goal. The try simply gave the team the right to do a place kick for points. Hence, it gave them a “try” for goal.
5. French rugby player Gaston Vareilles missed his international debut against Scotland in 1910 … all because of a sandwich. When the team train stopped at Lyon, Vareilles nipped to the buffet. But the queue was so long that by the time he returned to the platform, the train was disappearing into the distance. He was never picked for his country again.
6. If the population of Rugby went to Twickenham there would be more than 11,000 empty seats.
7. Everyone knows the New Zealand All Blacks dance the haka before the start of a match. But on the 16th November 1905 in Cardiff, the Welsh responded to the traditional war-dance by breaking into song.
They sang ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, the country’s national anthem, in a stirring first. Nowadays, of course, it’s done at the beginning of most international sporting events, as well on receiving medals and prizes.
8. The same whistle has been used for the first opening Rugby World Cup game since 1987. It’s known as the Gil Evans whistle, named after the Welsh ref to first use it.

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