Reunited At Last

England and Wales jerseys 1910

England and Wales meet at Twickenham for the 55th time on Saturday. 110 years ago the two sides helped kick off the Twickenham era when Ben Gronow did the honours in the first of his four caps for Wales.

Gronow had come into a strong Welsh side that had dominated the championship for more than a decade and went into Twickenham’s first test-match as favourites. Instead it was England, under the inspirational leadership of Adrian Stoop, who took the game to the visitors. Upon collecting Gronow’s kick, Stoop instigated a quick attacking move that saw Fred Chapman dive over the try-line for England in the first minute.

Chapman then landed a penalty before Wales struck back with a try from Tom Evans and England led 11-3 at half time. In the second half, Wales dominated possession and added a second try through Reggie Gibbs. Thereafter the likes of Cherry Pillman, Len Haigh and Dai Gent offered stout defensive resistance that allowed England to hold on for an 11-6 victory. It was their first win against Wales in more than a decade.

The match would be the last in the storied career of Charlie Pritchard, who at the end of the match is believed to have swapped jerseys with an England player. That jersey, pictured above, is now on display in our Charlie Pritchard exhibition. Alongside it is the jersey worn by Ben Gronow in the same match.

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Posted in England, International Players, Museum Collection, Twickenham, Wales | 4 Comments

Introducing the From The Vaults Podcast

Towards the end of last year, we launched our From The Vaults podcast where World Rugby Museum Curator Phil McGowan brings you interviews from high profile rugby names from across the world, looking into specific sporting and social history as well as a wider look at the game.


The first episode saw England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones talk about his time as Japan coach from 2012-2015, discussing how he developed and transformed the Brave Blossoms into a competitive international side before masterminding the greatest upset in Rugby World Cup history against South Africa.

World Rugby Museum Ambassador Lewis Moody joined us for episode 2 to share his thoughts about confidence on the pitch, being part of a Rugby World Cup winning squad, and his time as the Rugby Football Union’s First World War Ambassador.

Which brings us to today’s new episode with former England and Fiji Sevens coach Ben Ryan, who tells us about his life in rugby, from Wimbledon College to his Cambridge Blue, to leading Fiji to an historic first gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Listen and subscribe now on Acast, Apple Podcasts or other podcast app of your choice!

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#FromTheVaults – Ireland v England Touch Flag, 1913

Tough Flag 1913 2010-1851

Following the Guinness Six Nations fixture between England and Ireland at Twickenham this weekend, we wanted to highlight this early touch flag from the collection at the World Rugby Museum. This green flag was used in the Ireland v England Five Nations fixture played in Dublin on 8th February 1913. The design, embroidered on both sides, features Irish shamrocks at the lower left-hand corner, the English rose at the upper right-hand corner and ‘Ireland v England’ at the centre. The flag would have been carried by a touch judge, to be raised when the ball – or the player carrying it – went into touch. Continue reading

Posted in #FromTheVaults, England, Ireland, Museum Collection | Leave a comment

A Walking Tour of Rugby Town with Karl Quinney

If you are a supporter or follower of rugby or just have a general interest in the game, a visit to where the game first started – the town of Rugby in Warwickshire, central England – will be of real interest.

For many of the thousands of visitors that do come to explore from across the world, it is an enlightening experience. And for the most ardent of rugby followers and enthusiasts, it is a pilgrimage of sorts and one of those places to tick off your proverbial bucket list.

So call it a mini-tour as it were, here is a guide to five rugby places to visit in Rugby.

The first port of call has to be Rugby School, the place where rugby all began.

Black and white line drawing od a rugby match in front of the building of Rugby School.

For several centuries, the histories of Rugby and Rugby School have been inextricably linked. Walk through our town streets and in and around the buildings of Rugby School just as the pupils and tutors go about their daily lessons and you will soon begin to feel the energy, atmosphere and buzz that emanates from these historic surroundings. Prepare to find yourself delving into the origins of the sport, to where and how it all started, the history of the characters that shaped the game we know today, and the profound uniqueness of the town’s connections. Continue reading

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England v Ireland 1925, as told by Robert Collis

Bob Collis’ memories of watching Ireland against England at Lansdowne Road in 1911 were recorded in his book ‘The Silver Fleece’, first published in 1936. In this extract from the same book, he describes the emotional journey that came before, during and after representing Ireland at Twickenham in a memorable encounter on 14th February 1925.

Black and white photograph of 15 players in rugby kit and 1 official in a suit and tie

Ireland team v England, 14/02/1925, Twickenham

From all the matches I played in, of all the great moments when I have lived most, the day when Ireland and England drew at Twickenham in 1925 stands out. Continue reading

Posted in Countries, England, International Players, Ireland, Twickenham | 1 Comment

World Rugby Museum to Host Exhibition of Charlie Pritchard’s Career

To coincide with the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, the World Rugby Museum will be hosting an exclusive exhibition to highlight the career of acclaimed Welsh rugby star, Charlie Pritchard.

Close up of the collar of a rugby jersey

Pritchard appeared in the infamous game in Cardiff in December 1905, where the Welsh defeated the New Zealand All Blacks for the first time in their history, breaking the All Blacks colossal twenty-seven match-winning run.

The press were almost unanimous in acclaiming Pritchard as the standout Welsh forward, whose tackling and work-rate kept the visitors at bay. He would go on to play fourteen times for Wales. Continue reading

Posted in International Players, Museum Collection | 2 Comments

Weighing up the Competition

Rugby is a very physical contact sport, and as such the physicality of the players has been of great interest to supporters for the majority of the game’s history. Some programmes for tours and matches have listed player weights and heights ever since the early 20th Century. These statistics have been used to try and determine the outcome of matches before they have been played and to pit the 2 packs against each other.

Pictogram showing the increase in average height and weight of rugby players from 1905 to 2013

As rugby union became professional in 1995 we saw the advent of stricter training regimens for players along with coaches having greater control over their diet. These changes have led to an increase in the average player size. A study carried out on New Zealand team weights from 1905 to the present day shows an average increase in weight of the forwards by 25kg and a 19kg increase in the average weight of the backs. Continue reading

Posted in International Players, Rugby World Cup | 1 Comment