24 August 2011
Ann Evans goes on a pilgrimage to Rugby, Warwickshire, to celebrate its namesake sport in preparation for the World Cup and the wealth of memorabilia scheduled for release. ...
If you're a bit of a rugby football fan then one place you must visit is the Webb Ellis Rugby Museum in Rugby, Warwickshire. This atmospheric 19th century building stands in St Matthews Street facing the impressive Rugby School – where the sport of rugby football derived its name. The building has the longest continuous connection with the game of rugby football in the world.
Between the museum and the school stands a statue of William Webb Ellis, the schoolboy who is famed for first running with the ball and establishing the sport that we know and love today.
The Rugby Museum is a Mecca for rugby players and fans everywhere, and within its walls are thousands of items of rugby memorabilia not just from the early days of the sport but 20th and 21st century mementoes given by rugby teams and clubs from all over the world.
Countless thousands of people have passed through its doors since it was officially opened as a museum back in the 1980s. For some, making a visit there is a once in a lifetime experience – for others, it's an annual pilgrimage.
The Gazette’s team of Ann and Rob paid a visit to the museum and for Rob there were tears of joy in his eyes as he returned to his home-town where he, as a youth, played rugby for the county. With his Rugby-born cousin, Keith Tysall, having played for England, there couldn’t have been a better job for the Gazette to send him on.
We talked to Angie Irvine, the curator of the museum, who had moved here from New Zealand and had been brought up supporting the famous All Blacks team. Angie chatted to us about the museum and the history of rugby football, pointing out the amazing collection of photographs, balls, shirts, caps, artefacts, trophies and much more that has been gathered over the last 130 years mainly by two families – the Gilbert family and the current owners, the Webb family (no relation to William Webb Ellis)...
PICTURED: The rubber bladder and pump (left) and the changing face of rugby balls (right).