The Williams Webb Ellis Cup is the most prestigious trophy in rugby. It is awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup, a competition which only takes place every four years. So, is the trophy gold?
Is the Webb Ellis Cup gold? The William Webb Ellis Cup is gold, due to having a 24-carat gold plate which surrounds the solid silver of the trophy. This makes the trophy gold on the outside.
The William Webb Ellis trophy is the most prestigious trophy in rugby, with every player dreaming of getting their hands on the trophy. While the achievement of being the best rugby team in the world is the main reason people want to get their hands on the trophy, it is also down to the beautiful design of the William Webb Ellis Cup.
The Webb Ellis Cup is crafted from solid sterling silver and covered in a 24-carat gold plate. This makes the trophy brilliant to look at and is also one of the reasons why it weighs 4.5kg. The trophy being gold is pretty normal, with the majority of sports competitions having their trophies made out of gold. This dates back to gold being the colour of winners, mainly down to gold medals given out at the Olympics.
How many Webb Ellis Cups are there?
The majority of major sporting trophies will have more than one cup. There are quite often replicas made and this is also the case with Rugby’s biggest trophy, the Webb Ellis Cup.
There are two Webb Ellis Cup’s, with there being an original and a replica. The original Webb Ellis Cup was actually made in 1906, over 80 years before the very first Rugby World Cup took place. However, World Rugby knew that there needed to be more than just the one trophy.
So, one year prior to the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, a replica was made. The major organisers of the first Rugby World Cup went to a jeweller in Regent Street in London and found the trophy they were looking for, as well as requesting a replica is made. So, this means there are two Webb Ellis Cups.
Why is it called the Webb Ellis Cup?
The William Webb Ellis Cup is the trophy given to the team who win the Rugby World Cup. It is the most historic and prestigious trophy in Rugby history. Despite that, a lot of people don’t know the reason why the trophy is called the Webb Ellis Cup.
The trophy for the Rugby World Cup winners is called the Webb Ellis Cup because it is named after William Webb Ellis, the man who is believed to have invented rugby. The story goes that during a game of football at Rugby School in Warwickshire in the 1800s, young pupil William Webb Ellis picked up the football during a game and ran with it in his hands.
From here, rugby started to become more popular in England, with different areas having different rules for their version of the sport. It wasn’t until the RFU was formed that rugby had one set of rules that everyone played to.
It is believed that Rugby developed from this, with William Webb Ellis being the man who invented the sport. This is why World Rugby decided to name the trophy given to the Rugby World Cup winners after him. There is some controversy around the story.
The story of William Webb Ellis picking up a football and running with it has become more of a rugby legend than a real story. Historical details seem to be missing and there is evidence that William Webb Ellis did not invent the game of rugby. But that would ruin the legend around how rugby was created.
So, World Rugby have no plans on changing the name of the trophy away from being the Webb Ellis Cup, despite questions about the story of William Webb Ellis.
Webb Ellis Cup winners
There have actually only been four teams who have won the William Webb Ellis Cup. Those four teams are New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England.
The All Blacks are arguably the best international team in rugby history, so it can’t be a massive surprise that they have won the William Webb Ellis Cup three times in the trophy’s history. New Zealand were actually the first team to win the trophy, having won the 1987 Rugby World Cup.
Despite the early success, it was not until 2011 that they got their hands on the trophy again. New Zealand were dominant in the 2010s, winning the William Webb Ellis twice in a row, which means they have won the trophy three times.
The Springboks are the other team to have won the tournament three times, the same amount as New Zealand. This makes South Africa also the most successful team in Rugby World Cup history.
The Springboks first time lifting the Webb Ellis Cup was one of the most iconic moments in rugby history. Having previously been excluded from international rugby due to apartheid, they hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup and won the competition. Nelson Mandela handing the Webb Ellis Cup to Springboks captain Francois Pienaar is arguably the most famous moment in rugby.
South Africa held the Webb Ellis Cup again in 2007, defeating England in the final. They are also the current holders of the William Webb Ellis Cup, thanks to once again defeating England in the final. They will look to defend their trophy in the Rugby World Cup later this year.
Australia won the trophy twice in the 1990s, first in 1991 and again in 1999. They have not been able to get their hands on the trophy since, despite going to the Rugby World Cup final in 2003 and 2015.
England have only held the William Webb Ellis Cup once. That was down to the boot of Johnny Wilkinson, who famously took them past Australia in 2003. Despite being the country where rugby was invented, they have only held the William Webb Ellis Cup once.