With the Rugby World Cup 2015 now just 24 hours to go, excitement and anticipation is descending upon fans around the globe.
The first drop-out of the tournament is to take place at 8.00pm on the 18th September when England take on Fiji at the home of rugby, Twickenham – we’re already getting goosebumps just thinking of the sound of Swing Low ringing around the 82,000 seater stadium.
Before that moment, however, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on what you need to know to truly experience and embrace the most highly anticipated sports tournament of the year.
The idea of having a Rugby World Cup had been suggested since the 1950’s, but it wasn’t until 1985 when rugby ambassadors from Australia, France, New Zealand and South Africa all voted in favour of the proposal that it actually materialised. English and Welsh delegates were split on the decision, while Ireland and Scotland initially voted against it.
The inaugural tournament was held two years later in May and June of 1987 and was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Only sixteen nations took part, as opposed to the 20 teams that take part today, but New Zealand became the first ever champions, defeating France 29–9 in the final.
The Rugby World Cup has been held another six times since then, with Australia, South Africa and New Zealand each winning it twice. The other winner was England when they defeated Australia in 2003, thanks to a last second drop goal by Jonny Wilkinson.
Today, the Rugby World cup is a truly global phenomenon, with many countries now taking the sport much more seriously. Indeed, 119 countries now participate in the sport, supporting an estimated 6.6m players worldwide. This is further reflected by the fact that the number of participating unions involved in the Rugby World Cup has grown from 16 in 1987 to 95 in 2015, with 83 nations involved in qualification and 12 qualifying automatically by finishing in the top three in their pools in the 2011 World Cup.
2.5 million tickets have already been sold for this year’s tournament, which is expected to attract nearly half a million international visitors, and tens of millions of viewers each game.
The Cup is named after William Webb Ellis, who is often credited as the inventor of rugby football when he picked up and ran with a football at Rugby School in 1823. The Webb Ellis cup has been presented to the winner of the Rugby World Cup ever since the first competition in 1987 and has affectionately become known as ‘Old Bill’ over the years.
There are two official Webb Ellis Cups, which are used interchangeably. One cup is a 1906 trophy made by Carrington and Co. of London, and based on a Victorian design of a 1740 cup by Paul de Lamerie, and the other is a 1986 replica.
Standing at 38cm high and weighing 4.5kg, the trophy is made from silver covered in gold leaf. On one of the handles is the head of a nymph, on the other the head of a satyr. In Greek mythology the satyr is associated with the pursuit of physical pleasures, and the nymph the object of his affections.
The large majority of matches will be played on English soil, apart from 8 which will be played at the Millennium Stadium in Wales. The locations make use of some of the best stadiums in the UK including some well-known football stadia as well as traditional rugby grounds.
- Brighton Community Stadium (Brighton FC)
- Elland Road (Leeds FC)
- Kingsholm Stadium (Gloucester RFC)
- King Power Stadium (Leicester City FC)
- City of Manchester Stadium (Etihad Stadium – Manchester City FC)
- Millennium Stadium
- The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- Sandy Park (Exeter Chiefs RFC)
- St James’ Park (Newcastle Utd FC)
- Stadium MK (MK Dons FC)
- Twickenham Stadium
- Villa Park (Aston Villa FC)
- Wembley Stadium
Match Points System
It’s not quite as simple as football, so here’s just a brief overview of all you need to know about the scoring system in both matches and tables, helping you keep abreast of what needs to be done for your team to win, or top a table.
- Try 5 points
- Conversions 2 points
- Converted penalty 3 points
- Drop-kick 3 points
- Win 4 points
- Draw 2 points
- Loss 0 points
- 4 or more tries 1 point
- Loss by 7 points or less 1 point
Although there are no fundamental changes to the laws of the game for Rugby World Cup 2015, referees have been asked to keep an eye on several key areas relating to player safety.
Referees at the World Cup have been told to ensure that scrum-half’s feed the ball in straight so that there is a fair contest between hookers – a rule that is often bent or even missed.
They will also instruct players at the back of the scrum (No.8, flankers, scrum half) to use the ball quickly when a scrum is, or becomes, stationary.
The laws of rugby say ‘a player must not tackle (or try to tackle) an opponent above the line of the shoulders, even if the tackle starts below that point. This is seen as foul play and a penalty is awarded.’
Referees have been told to be tougher with sanctions every time the head or neck is deliberately grabbed or choked.
Challenging Players in the Air
Void of serious injury, referees will allow the game to play on if they feel there has been a fair aerial challenge, with both players genuinely trying to catch the ball – even if one lands dangerously.
They will award a penalty if there has been a genuine challenge but a player timed his jump wrongly and impeded his opponent.
However, if there is an unfair challenge and the player lands on his back or side, referees have been told to show the challenging player a yellow card. If the same happens and the player lands on his head, neck or shoulders, a red card will be shown.
Referees have been asked to keep a sharp eye out for players who enter a maul ahead of the ball carrier in a bid to ease his way to the try-line.
They will also be watching closely to make sure a ball carrier is properly bound to a maul, which doesn’t always happen after a set move following a lineout, for example.
After an extensive two-year development process, the Match XV ball is the most tested ball in Gilbert history. Utilising a new surface compound, grip has been enhanced without compromising on subtlety or durability, while the surface design has been improved to enable quicker water dispersion. However, the pimple pattern, weight and shape all remain the same as the balls used during the 2011 world cup.
There’s a brief overview of what you need to know about the Rugby World Cup 2015 before it kicks-off.
To show extra support to your national team, adorn yourself in our patriotic range of handmade silver jewellery. As official world cup merchandise suppliers, we offer red rose cufflinks, bracelets, earrings, bracelets, pins, money clips and tie slides.
For the New Zealand supporters we provide All Blacks silver broches, cufflinks, pins and All Blacks silver necklaces.
South Africa supporters can choose from a selection of Springbok silver brooches, cufflinks, pins, necklaces and Springbok silver charm bracelets.
For Australia supporters, there’s a range of Wallabies silver brooches, cufflinks, pins, necklaces and Wallabies silver charm bracelets.
For our friends in red we’ve got a host of Welsh rugby union silver tie slides, necklaces, cufflinks and Welsh rugby union silver pins.