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The Rugby World Cup is one of the most prestigious and eagerly anticipated events in the world of sports. Held every four years, this tournament brings together the finest rugby nations to compete for glory. While many fans are well-acquainted with the basics of the Rugby World Cup, there are some intriguing facts and stories that often remain hidden. Here are the top 10 things you didn’t know about the Rugby World Cup:

1. Inaugural Tournament Absence

Berkshire Hathaway's Origins Were in the Textile Industry

The First World Cup: While the Rugby World Cup as we know it today began in 1987, the sport’s first international competition was held in 1884. However, New Zealand and Australia, two rugby powerhouses, declined to participate in the inaugural Rugby World Cup, which was a notable absence.

2. The William Webb Ellis Trophy

The William Webb Ellis Trophy

Tournament Trophy: The coveted prize of the Rugby World Cup is the William Webb Ellis Trophy. Interestingly, William Webb Ellis is often credited with inventing rugby when he famously picked up a soccer ball and ran with it during a football game in 1823. The trophy’s name serves as a tribute to this legendary rugby moment.

3. The Smallest Nation

The Smallest Nation

Tonga’s Remarkable Debut: In the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Tonga, a small island nation in the Pacific, delivered one of the tournament’s most unforgettable moments. They upset the odds by defeating France, a rugby powerhouse, in a thrilling match. This victory showcased the unpredictable nature of rugby and the spirit of the underdog.

4. The All Blacks’ Dominance

New Zealand’s Supremacy: The New Zealand national rugby team, known as the All Blacks, has been a dominant force in the Rugby World Cup. They have won the tournament multiple times and have consistently maintained a high level of performance. The haka, a traditional Maori war dance, performed by the All Blacks before matches, has become one of the sport’s iconic rituals.

5. Jonah Lomu’s Impact

Jonah Lomu's Impact

Lomu’s Legacy: Jonah Lomu, a legendary New Zealand winger, made a profound impact on the Rugby World Cup. He burst onto the scene in the 1995 tournament, where his incredible speed and power left an indelible mark. Lomu scored seven tries in that competition and became a global sensation.

6. Rugby’s Global Expansion

Rugby's Global Expansion

Embracing Diversity: While rugby has traditionally been associated with a handful of nations, the Rugby World Cup has witnessed a significant expansion of participating countries over the years. This inclusivity has allowed nations from various regions to showcase their rugby talent on the world stage.

7. South Africa’s Remarkable Return

South Africa's Remarkable Return

1995 Triumph: South Africa’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup holds special significance. It was not only a sporting triumph but also a symbol of the country’s progress and unity after the end of apartheid. The image of Nelson Mandela presenting the trophy to South African captain Francois Pienaar is etched in rugby history.

8. Record-Breaking Attendance

Record-Breaking Attendance

Massive Crowds: The Rugby World Cup consistently attracts large audiences. The 2015 tournament in England set a new attendance record, with over 2.4 million fans attending matches. The fervour and enthusiasm of rugby fans from around the world contribute to the tournament’s vibrant atmosphere.

9. Japan’s Historic Upset

Japan's Historic Upset

Shocking the World: The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan witnessed one of the greatest upsets in the sport’s history. The host nation, Japan, defeated Ireland, a top-tier team, in a thrilling match. This victory showcased Japan’s growing rugby prowess and captured the hearts of fans worldwide.

10. The Oldest Squad Member

The Oldest Squad Member

Age is Just a Number: The oldest player to ever participate in a Rugby World Cup match was Diego Ormaechea from Uruguay. He took the field at the age of 40 years and 26 days during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Ormaechea’s longevity and dedication to the sport serve as an inspiration to rugby players of all ages, proving that age should never be a barrier to pursuing one’s passion for the game.

The Rugby World Cup continues to be a celebration of rugby’s finest moments, captivating stories, and unforgettable performances. With each tournament, the sport grows in popularity and reaches new corners of the globe, ensuring that its legacy endures for generations to come.

“We’ve reached the end of our Top 10 countdown, and we’d love to hear from you! Do you agree with our choices, or is there something we missed that you feel deserves a spot on this list? Let’s start a conversation – comment below with your thoughts and ideas. Your input might just influence our next Top 10!”

If you like this you would like The Top 10 Things People Don’t Know about Rugby

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