Facts About Rugby

Fun Facts About Rugby

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Rugby: the staple sport of the Southern Hemisphere. Its modern reincarnation has been played for almost 200 years now; although many historians agree that it has its roots all the way back in the Roman era. 

The sport has a funny, intriguing, and rich history behind it; and in this article, we’ve compiled a list of humorous, odd, and even gory facts about rugby, that we really think you’ll love. 

Wether you are just hearing/reading of the game of rugby for the first time or you are already acquainted with the sport, there’s definitely something new to be learnt from these collection of fun facts about rugby. If there are no new things to be learnt from the list of facts about Rugby, then there would be no need putting this compilation of facts together. Without a waste of time let’s dive into the list of Rugby facts you probably didn’t know about.

Facts About Rugby

  • The first Rugby balls were made from pig’s bladders

Ever wondered why the Rugby balls aren’t just made the same round shape as a most others? Well, their unique plum shape isn’t just to make them look different; It actually makes them aerodynamic, easy to hold, and easy to pass (throw) over distances. For these exact reasons, the original rugby balls were made from inflated pigs bladders, stitched tightly to retain the air blown into them. 

  • Rugby wasn’t always called Rugby

Apparently, the modern name is barely 200 years old! History has it that the Romans were the original creators of the game of rugby, and played it over 2,000 years ago. Back then, the game was called Harpastum – the Latin derivative of the Greek word arpazo – roughly translated seize: a rather brilliant description of the aim of the game.

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  • The modern game was born at the Warwickshire “Rugby” School

Rugby is believed to have its origins at the Warwickshire Rugby School. Ironically, however, the sport has nothing to do with the school’s name. In 1823, a Student, William Webb Ellis, playing a regular game of football, picked up the football and charged at the opponents’ goal – thus breaking the rules of one sport – and inadvertently pioneering another. 

The formal rules of “rugby football” would however not come to be established until 1946. Today, the Rugby World Cup Trophy is called the William Webb Ellis Trophy – a very fitting tribute to the man who invented the game.

  • Rugby’s First Ball-Boys 

Richard Lindon and William Gilbert, shoemakers in Rugby Town made the first modern rugby ball, which was then exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London.

  • The All Blacks are one of Rugby’s most successful teams in the history of the sport 

The New Zealand All Blacks are one of the most successful teams in sporting history. They played their first ever rugby game in 1903; and Since then, they’ve scored a staggering win percentage of 78% in just under 600 games! 

They were also the first rugby team to win 500 test matches, one of many records establishing the All Blacks the world’s best team.

They’ve also won 3 Rugby World Cups (though arguably should have won all of them apart from 1991 and 2003).

  • England is the only team in the northern hemisphere to win the Rugby World Cup

It is truly ironic, that a game which originated in Northern Hemisphere England, has seen teams from the opposite (southern) hemisphere become far better at it.

So far, there have been 9 Rugby World Cups – of which New Zealand and South Africa have each won 3, Australia 2. England are, quite remarkably the only team in the northern hemisphere to have won it. 

Perhaps the French-hosted 2023 Rugby World Cup will provide the Northern Hemisphere an opportunity to redeem itself with a second win.

  • Japan was the first Asian nation to ever reach the knockout stages of the William Web Ellis Cup

Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019 – in a tournament which saw them not only become the first Asian nation to host they Rugby World Cup, but to also reach the knockout stages for the first time in history – with an incredible shock win over Scotland.

Their progress was, eventually, halted by South Africa in the quarter-finals. But by then, they had already endeared themselves to the world with their brilliant play; and demonstrated that it was a brilliant idea to take rugby beyond its traditional borders, in order to grow the game’s popularity.

  • Rugby first appeared at the Olympics 1900

Despite its origins since 1946, Rugby did not qualify as an Olympic sport until the 1900, Paris games – and even after then, only appeared intermittently until its formal reintroduction at the Rio De Janeiro Games 2016.

In these games, both a male and female 7’s tournaments were played. At those games, Fiji made national history by winning the men’s tournament – to secure their first ever Olympic medal.

  • 160 international caps and still going

To describe Alun Wyn Jones of Wales as a rugby giant would still be a gross understatement. As of today, Alun has over 160 international caps to his name – and counting.

A tireless team player, he’s participated at 4 world cups between 2007-2019 – an individual record – and 4 Lions Tours (2009-2021), another individual record. Alongside that, he’s also clocked up over 225 appearances for his club side, The Ospreys. 

Oh, and- did we mention that Alun seems to be in line for a fifth World Cup appearance in France 2023? This guy just keeps going and going!

  • The most tries scored by a rugby player is 69

As we previously saw, Japan is yet to take the world cup – or get past the knockout stages. Yet, despite this, their former player Daisuke Ohata still holds the world record for most international tries, with 69.

He set this impressive record between 1996 and 2006 – as a winger – even once scoring eight tries in a single match. It certainly does not look like anyone’s going to be touching that record in a long time!

  • Death by Manufacturing 

When rugby first started, Richard Lindon’s leather shop was in high demand for balls. To meet the demand, he recruited his wife Rebecca as his production assistant. Sadly, she didn’t last too long on the job, passing away not too long after as a result of the germs she ingested from blowing up the unhygienic bladders.

From that day, Lindon started to seek alternatives to pigs’ bladders.

  • Referees blow the same whistle at the start of each world cup

This is without a doubt one of our favourite rugby facts. Welsh referee Gil Evans used the same whistle to preside over Rugby games for 20 years, donating it to the New Zealand Rugby Museum in 1969.

The tradition was revived for the 1987 Rugby World Cup, and the whistle has been used for every tournament since. Best not to think about how hygienic that 100-year-old whistle is.


We have the complete list of fun facts about rugby compiled above, even though the facts list features most of the vital information about the game of rugby, there are still some unknown facts about rugby we weren’t able feature in the list but they would be attended to in the following section that features popularly and frequently asked questions about rugby.

Rugby FAQs

  • Which country invented the rugby?

The game of rugby was invented in England in the year 1823 by William Webb Ellis.

The sport was named rugby after the small English town where it was invented, the English town is called Rugby.

  • Who invented rugby invented?

Rugby was invented by William Webb Ellis in the year 1823. He invented the game in a school in a small English town known as Rugby.

  • What is a rugby ball called?

The rugby ball is called footie it was also known as quanco in the past.

  • What was rugby originally called?

Several accounts suggested the game of rugby used to be known as Harpastum.

  • Where is rugby most popular?

Rugby is most popular in several countries like New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Georgia, Wales and Madagascar where it is their national sports.

  • How long is a rugby game?

A rugby game lasts 80 minutes which is divided into two halves each lasting 40 minutes. The halftime of each game that separates each half of the games lasts a maximum of 15 minutes.

  • What are the 2 types of rugby?

The two types of rugby are the rugby sevens and the rugby fifteens.

  • When was the first rugby game?

The first rugby game was known to have been played on the 27th of March 1871 in Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Is rugby older than football?

Historians believe Rugby is older than the game of football. This belief comes from the game which Rugby is believed to have originated from. It is believed rugby is over 2000 years old.

  • Who made the rules of rugby?

The rules of rugby were made by E. Rutter, E.C Holmes and L.J Maton. The trio were alumni of the Rugby School.

  • How many players are in rugby?

A game of rugby consists of 30 players with each time having 15 players each.

  • Which came first rugby or soccer?

Historians believe that Rugby came first before the game of soccer. The very first game that is similar to rugby was being played by the Romans as far back as 2000 years ago.

  • Where did the game of rugby start?

The game of Rugby is believed to have started in Rugby School in Warwickshire, England back in 1823.

  • What country dominates rugby?

The most dominant country in the game of rugby is New Zealand, this is due to the country’s consistent domination of the world rugby ranking for decades.

  • How does rugby end?

The game of rugby only ends when the ball is dead after the game play time has expired. If the time has expired but the game is still in play, the match continues until the ball is dead. The rugby ball is considered to dead when the ball or the player handling the ball crosses any of the dead ball line.

  • What are the rules of rugby?

Some of the rules of the rugby are:

  1. No shoulder pads or helmets in rugby.
  2. The ball must be pitched backwards to your teammates.
  3. There is no blocking to assist your runner.
  4. Everyone runs with the ball and tackles equally.
  5. When you are tackled you have one second to let go of the ball and purposely “fumble” the ball.
  • How many rugby fans are in the world?

It is believed that there are over 400 million rugby fans all over the world.