10 Things You Never Knew About: Rugby

“Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen; soccer is a gentleman’s game played by beasts; football is a beastly game played by beasts.”
-Henry Blaha

Ok, so we’re a little late. Like over a year late but we at MensXP enjoy making up for lost time, even when it adds up to 365 days. Besides, i’m a girl and i’m ridiculously tired of covering endless cricket stories. It’s time to shake things up a bit and take an interest in other sports. Rugby just seemed like a good idea at the moment so even though the next world cup is in 2015, we decided to pay tribute to the sport minus any occasion whatsoever.

India actually has a surprisingly big rugby following believe it or not and even a team which practices at Bombay Gymkhana club in Mumbai. But as usual, we digress. Without further ado, here are ten–hopefully surprising–facts about the sport that’s designed to bash brains in. Hello rugby.

Fact One: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?..

We should add however that the trademark oval ball only took over from the spherical ball they’d originally used in 1892.

Fact Two: The sport itself originated back in 1823 at the Rugby School, Warcwickshire, England by William Webb. Though there isn’t much hard evidence to back up this fact Rugby myth has it that he caught the ball while playing soccer and ran towards the oppositions goal. As such, many feel it’s a hybrid sport of football. In any case, the game was developed over the next few years and by 1845, the first ever Rugby rules had been drafted.

Fact Three: The All Blacks, New Zealand’s Rugby team, are probably the most famous and successful rugby team in the world. Before every match they perform a aka which is a maori war dance usually only performed by tribes and cultural groups across their country.

Fact Four:
Despite ‘The All Blacks’ being widely considered to be the greatest Rugby team, USA’s team are still the reigning Olympic Rugby champs. This is because they were the last team to win in 1924 after which the sport was discontinued at an Olympic level.

Fact Five: Unlike almost any other sport in the world, not a single team who’s won the Rugby world cup one year has managed to retain it in the next world cup.

Fact Six: 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!

Fact Seven: Tries are unique to the game of rugby. It is called so because originally, a player wouldn’t receive any points for crossing the line but they did gain the opportunity to try and kick at the goal. Internationally speaking, the player who has scored the most amount of these tries is Daisuke Ohata of Japan. He has scored 69 tries in 58 matches. Incidentally, Rugby was introduce in Japan very early (circa 1830) by a Cambridge University instructor who taught the sport as an extra-curricular activity.

Fact Eight: South Africa is now one of the leading nations in this sport for many years. It was actually introduced to them by the British troops who were stationed in Cape Town.

Fact Nine: The first ever Rugby game took place between Scotland and England and Scotland won.

Fact Ten: The International Rugby Board (IRB) is the highest governing body in the Rugby Union and was formed back in 1886. There are 97 member unions in the IRB.

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