Rugby World Cup 2023 France
Rugby World Cup 2023 France

Who is Webb Ellis of the Webb Ellis Cup?

It is the pinnacle of rugby union. Every four years teams from across the world compete for a piece of silverware and place in history: the Webb Ellis Cup.

However, who is Webb Ellis and why is the prestigious Rugby World Cup named after him?

Who is William Webb Ellis?

William Webb Ellis was born in Salford, Lancashire, and was a Clergyman by trade. Webb Ellis was believed to have been studious and a handy cricketer, even appearing in a single first-class cricket match for Oxford University in their inaugural varsity match against Cambridge.

On paper, besides the slice of cricketing history, Webb Ellis’ life isn’t one of monstrous notoriety, with one massive exception of perhaps being the accidental inventor of the game of rugby union.

Who is Webb Ellis of Rugby World Cup
Source:Wikimedia Commons. Statue of William Webb Ellis outside Rugby School in Central England

The famous accident

Webb Ellis attended Rugby School, a school named after its locality, the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. During a game of football (soccer), it’s told that Webb Ellis, instead of kicking the ball in return, held the ball in his hands and ran down the pitch.

That act in 1823 is believed to be the starting point of the rugby style of football, etching
Webb Ellis, the accidental inventor, in the history books of the game and sport in general.

The story was recreated as a short film during Rugby World Cup 2015 and was played before England and Fiji squared off in the first match.

The naming of the Webb Ellis Cup

The original Webb Ellis Cup was crafted in 1906 by London silversmith company, Garrards. At just 38 centimetres tall and 4.5 kilograms, it’s not the most hefty or spectacular sporting trophy, but in 1987 it was selected by the RWC Organising Committee to be the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup.

As the legendary inventor of the sport, Webb Ellis was chosen as the name of the cup as a fitting testament to the long history of rugby union.

There are several international rugby tournaments played with varying levels of inclusion, but no more so than Rugby World Cup. The Webb Ellis Cup has been held aloft by victorious captains since 1987 and the excitement now builds as to which team captain will have the honour at Rugby World Cup France 2023.


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