During the on-field build up for the Lions & Stormers game between Joel Stransky and Pommie’s brother, there was a mention and camera shot of the William Webb Ellis Cup.
I was surprised they let that kind of hardware into Doornfontein on a Saturday evening – I was concerned for it’s safe passage from there down to New Zealand. I’m sure it must have been a replica.
Joel’s eyes light up too, in a scary Gollum kind of way too, “My preeecioussssssss…..” who can really blame him, imagine the feeling of nostalgia you’d have with the Cup at arm’s length at the venue of arguably South Africa’s greatest sporting moment, knowing you boxed the winning drop?
It also got me thinking on factoids on the much sought after Cup. Thanks to Wiki-Wiki I can now provide these and you’ll probably lose 2 minutes of your life (if you are a slow reader).
The Cup is named after the Anglican clergyman or that oke who supposedly invented the game out on a field somewhere in Rugby, Warwickshire, by picking up and then running with the ball in his paws.
Not so! Wiki’s reliable sources has it down that the players, of what could be best be described as a primitive form of gaining grounds, were allowed to catch the pigs bladder – so that whole spiel about Bill causing a ruckus by picking up the ball is cods wallop.
The burning issue was with him going on a Va’aiga Tuigamala-esque run toward s the opposition in goal area which confused his Bigside opponent, and his cronies.
After this moment in the sun, or more likely grey blanket sky in the UK, Bill ended up living in France, and he never married,(has something to do with that clergyman job description I guess).
He is buried in a little town on the French Riviera, named Menton, la perle de la France (the Pearl of France). If you are ever out that way look it up – the IFR have renovated the grave. Not sure how impressed the missus would be that idea on your honey-moon though.
Some other useless facts: The cup is 38 cm in height, and is made of gilded silver.
Now here is the kicker.
The two supporting scrolls or handles, have something funky going on which I never knew.
On one there is the head of a Satyr – the Greek character which is half man, half goat, lover of woman and wine, seeker of every physical pleasure and on the other handle is a head of a Nymph, a young nubile female deity, who loves to dance and sing and do other things..,
Bloody fantastic! I wonder what the clergyman would think of this whole setup under his name!
The WWC is a relatively young Cup, commissioned in ’87 and handed over to Captain Kirk,leader of the first side to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup, not the USS Enterprise
But I’m hoping that quaint stories and tales will be added to the history of this Cup: perhaps starting this last weekend in Doornfontein where a police dog called Bliksem saved the day by sniffing out 1 times authentic 38cm gilded silver trophy hidden under a heap of old newspapers on a park bench somewhere in the Vaal Triangle.