Are you a hard-core rugby fan? Did you know that 2019 is the year of the Rugby World Cup? This handy guide will tell you what you need to know before the final showdown.
Did you know?
The first ever rugby balls were fashioned out of hand-stitched leather casing and pigs' bladders, similar to American football. Apparently, pigs' bladders naturally take on an oval shape. Over time, the oval shape of rugby balls became even more pronounced, making them easier to catch, hold and run with.
Singing a national anthem before a sporting event was originated at a rugby match. Everyone knows the All Blacks, New Zealand's Rugby team, are probably the most famous and successful rugby team in the world. Before every match they dance the haka, a Maori war dance usually only performed by tribes and cultural groups across their country. 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, and when receiving medals and prizes.
The same whistle has been used for the first opening Rugby World Cup game since 1905. It turns out rugby players are a sentimental bunch, using the same whistle to open the first game of the World Cup since 1905. It’s known as the Gil Evans whistle, named after the Welsh ref to first use it.
Keep reading to find out even more about the history of rugby and what you need to know before the 2019 World Cup.