Did You Know… Rugby Edition
The Rugby Ball
Did you know that the rugby ball wasn’t always the oval shape it is now? It’s true, before it took on its now iconic form the ball was instead sort of a plum shape. This is because before the end of the 1800s balls were actually made by inflating a pig’s bladder. This method was used for both rugby and football though as the production of rubber inner tubes began later in the 19th century footballs became spherical whilst Rugby School (where the game was founded) asked that they kept a somewhat awkward shape in order to distinguish their sport from football and of course because the oval shape makes it easier to catch and carry the ball on the move. And so, the rugby ball we know and love today was born.
Did you know that back when all balls were made using pigs’ bladders it was actually possible to die from inflating one? That’s right, back in the day 19th Century ball suppliers weren’t lucky enough to have hand pumps, instead they had to inflate each ball simply by blowing into it like a balloon. This could cause quite the issue if the bladder was diseased and could transfer that illness to the blower too. The unfortunate wife of Richard Lindon made rugby balls for the school and passed away after breathing in the sickness of too many bad bladders.
The National Anthem
Did you know that the first time a national anthem was sung at the start of a sporting event it was during a rugby match between New Zealand and Wales? For those that don’t know, New Zealand are renowned for dancing the traditional ‘Haka’ before each game they play, this is supposed to intimidate their opponent as it is a traditional war dance. They performed this as usual during a game against Wales in 1905 and in response to this the Welsh team began to sing “Hen Wlad Fy Ndhadau” or ‘Land of our Fathers” in English. This is their National Anthem and as they sang it their fans joined in too, now this is pretty much commonplace in every national sports game across the world.
Earning a Try
Did you know how tries got their names? A try is now how players earn most their points in a game of rugby, they do this by crossing the touchline and then touching it to the floor and it’s worth 4 points in rugby league and 5 in rugby union games. This wasn’t always the case however, in fact, in the earlier days of the game it was worth no point at all. Instead if you managed to touch a ball to the floor past the touchline you would instead be given a an attempt, or a “try” to score a goal which would be done by placing the ball on the floor and kicking above the crossbar and between the posts which would convert the try into a goal giving you a point. This is also where the name “conversion” comes from too.