LOOKING BACK - April 23 edition

The teams at The Close in 1923
The teams at The Close in 1923
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1923 William Webb Ellis rugby centenary

Many of you knew rugby enthusiast Roy Batchelor, who died in January. These two team pictures belonged to him and have been shared with us by one of his sons, Colin. Roy had an outstanding knowledge of the game and I am sure could have told us the history behind these pictures. But in his absence, I’ve had to research the occasion in our 1923 paper instead. It was a centenary celebration commemorating 16-year-old Rugby School boy William Webb Ellis who, in 1823, ‘with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it’ from which evolved the great game of rugby football as we now know it. The event was a dual international match played on Rugby School Close. The combined England and Wales team beat Scotland and Ireland 21-16 (2 goals, 2 drop goals, 1 try to 2 goals, 2 tries).

The Advertiser’s report said the match naturally excited a great deal of interest in all corners of the world where rugby is played and had it been possible to accommodate all who desired to witness the game, there would have been far more than the 2,000 tickets issued by the English Rugby Union and Old Rugbeian Society.