In 1823, so the legend goes, William Webb-Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, picked up the ball and ran. With this “fine disregard for the rules”, Webb-Ellis is described as having invented the game of Rugby Football, as distinct from its kicking counterparts.
Although a wonderful and enduring tale the Webb-Ellis myth is sadly not supported by historical evidence.
But here are five things you might not know about the man:
1. He was born on 24th November 1806 in Salford near Manchester, Lancashire
2. The incident in which Webb Ellis supposedly caught the ball in his arms during a football match (which was allowed) and ran with it (which was not) is supposed to have happened in the latter half of 1823.
3. His grave was rediscovered in 1958 and has since been renovated by the French Rugby Federation.
4. The only known contemporary image of Webb Ellis was published in the Illustrated London News, 1854
5. He never married and died in the south of France in 1872, leaving an estate of £9,000, mostly to various charities.