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Rugby School stage Webb Ellis bicentenary matches

07 December 2006

Rugby School will stage two games this weekend to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of William Webb Ellis, the man credited with playing a part in helping to create the sport that now carries the name of the Warwickshire town.
On Friday December 8 (2pm) Rugby School's current first XV will play a cadets team from Menton on the French Riviera, the town where Webb Ellis died and is buried. On Saturday December 9 a team from Rugby Lions, the National Three North club, will play Menton's senior team (2.15pm). Entry to both matches is free.
Both matches will be played on The Close, the historic ground at the school, where Webb Ellis reportedly made history in 1823 by ignoring the rules of the day and picking up a football and running towards the opposition.
The first account of the incident did not appear until 1876, four years after Webb Ellis died. It gave birth to a rugby legend though other Rugbeians of the mid-nineteeneth century, including Jem Mackie, who popularised try-scoring, William Arnold, who helped to write the first rules of Rugby School football and Thomas Hughes, who described the game in 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' also played significant roles in developing the sport.
Webb Ellis is already commemorated with a plaque and statue at the school and his name is on the Rugby World Cup trophy.
After leaving Rugby School, Webb Ellis went to Oxford University and then became a clergyman, working at churches in London and Essex before he moved to France. His grave was rediscovered by Ross McWhirter in 1958.

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