The Shimogamo Shrine: Rugby’s First Religious Monument

As you enter the World Rugby Museum, on your right there is a quote attributed to Lord Ferrier, in a speech he gave to the House of Lords in 1969:

‘…Rugby football, this superb game which, if not actually a religion is, to many at least, a way of life…’

Of course rugby is not actually a religion but it does have at least one religious monument and that is located in Kyoto, Japan.

The Shimogamo Shrine is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates from the 6th Century. It is described in the Japanese origin myth as the final resting place of Yatagarasu, the three legged crow, who guided Japan’s first Emperor to his place of residence at Yamato.

Shimogama Shrine Continue reading

Posted in Japan, Rugby World Cup | 1 Comment

Trend or Tradition? Part 2

3 years ago we posted a response to an article published on Americas Rugby News in which Richard Steele examined the history of Scottish selections and whether the trend of international teams selecting foreign born players really is as modern as is widely assumed. This time, John Jenkins takes a look at some other rugby nations…

In March 1991 the Welsh Rugby Union announced the introduction of a six year residential qualification for non-Welsh players who wished to play international rugby for Wales. ‘Wales has always been a leading rugby nation through the excellence of Welshmen’, Denis Evans, the then secretary of the WRU announced. ‘We have never had to rely upon other nations and we do not intend to start now’.

But is this true? From the very beginning every international side has included ‘foreign-born’ players. Continue reading

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After the War: The Victory Internationals, 1945-46

by J. R. Suber

On a chilly Saturday in November 1945, fifteen Englishmen in white long-sleeved jerseys lined up on the green pitch of Twickenham Stadium. Opposite them and through the grey mist stood a team of New Zealanders, their black jerseys stamped with the silver fern. They certainly looked like the All Blacks but they weren’t, and the entire affair did look like an international fixture but it wasn’t—at least not officially. Rather, it was the first match in a celebratory post-war series known as the Victory Internationals.

England rugby team 1945

England team v New Zealand, 24/11/1945, Twickenham

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Remembering Bob Weighill

Remembering Bob Weighill, the England captain who helped pave the way for the Normandy landings.

Bob Weighill

Robert Harold George Weighill CBE DFC was born in Kings Norton in 1920. He attended Wirral Grammar School before joining the Cheshire County Constabulary as a teenager in 1937. Two years after war was declared he enlisted with the Royal Air Force as a pilot. Continue reading

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Historic Rugby Internationals: Scotland v England, 1925

Scotland’s fourth and final match in the 1925 International Championship on March 21st has gone down in rugby history as one of the greatest matches played between the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century.  Scotland won their 1st Grand Slam that day by 14-11 in a desperately close encounter against their old enemies England.

Scotland arrived at Murrayfield, their new international ground, on March 21st having beaten France in front of a crowd of 20,000 people at Inverleith, Wales in Swansea and Ireland at Lansdowne Road, Dublin.  They had scored 63 points in their three matches including 15 tries and had only conceded 26 points including 4 tries.  So Scotland was on the cusp of a historic first ever Grand Slam and 60,000 expectant spectators filled Murrayfield, noted by The Scotsman as the largest attendance ever at a rugby international.  The match was a thrilling encounter from start to finish.


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Kent v Sussex 1866 – the world’s first representative match?

John Honeysett’s recent book ‘The History of Brighton Football Club (Rugby Union)’ provides a shake-up for established rugby historical orthodoxies. Amongst a number of claims is that Kent and Sussex contested the first county match in 1866, four years before Lancashire met Yorkshire for the first time in what is believed to have been the first representative match of any kind. Here John explains… Continue reading

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Old and New – a look at the changing nature of rugby committees, by Keith Gregson

In recent correspondence Phil McGowan, Curator of the World Rugby Museum, pointed out that the founding members of the RFU were all very young (and also probably active players). I hope to look in detail at the formation of Sunderland Rugby Football Club in 1873 – the work of two teenagers boarding at a public school in the south of England. I am also in the fortunate position of having discovered a detailed list of club committee members for the 1901/2 season and, with the help of the 1901 census, have examined it in the light of the more recent articles and correspondence. Continue reading

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