THE WEBB ELLIS CUP – THE HISTORY OF THE CUP THAT THE SPRINGBOKS HAVE WON MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY
The Webb Ellis Cup is something that everything South African has seen splashed across their televisions and across social media in the last few weeks, after the Springboks made history and made their country exceptionally proud by winning it for the fourth time in a nail-biting victory over the New Zealand All Blacks, which is more than any other country. It was also a back-to-back win, as South Africa was the previous world champions and cup holders after our 2019 win over England. New Zealand were also fighting for the status of four-time world cup holders, however fell just shy thanks to the Springbok’s absolute determination and ‘never-say-die’ attitude that had carried them through the previous two games too.
Although there is a petition out to change the name of the Webb Ellis Cup to something more South African (because we seem to have it more often than not), the Webb Ellis cup has an interesting history, and one that has been around for over 200 years. William Webb Ellis was born in Salford in 1806, and surprisingly did not become the world’s first professional rugby player, but ended up becoming a clergyman instead. Despite his professional choices, William Webb Ellis is believed to be the inadvertent creator of rugby. As legend has it, in his teens while playing a football match, he caught the ball and instead of kicking it, he opted to run with it instead. The sport that we know and love today, ultimately took its name from the school that William attended at the time, which was the Rugby School in Warwickshire
The Webb Ellis cup has been a part of the rugby world cup since its inception in 1987, with four nations having held it – three of them being based in the Southern Hemisphere: New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, with England being the only Northern Hemisphere representative. That being said, the Webb Ellis Cup actually pre-dates the Rugby World Cup by almost 80 years. The Cup was created in 1906 off the back of a 1740 design and was made of silver and gilded in gold. It then remained vaulted at Garrad’s workshop for the next eight decades. In 1989, the cup’s chance finally came when the International Rugby Board came knocking looking for a trophy worthy of a world cup winner. Prior to our win on the 28th of October, New Zealand’s captain, Richie McCaw was the only captain to have lifted the cup after two successive tournaments. Thankfully our boys brought it home in more ways than one and made history in the process.