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The origins of the Webb Ellis Cup
Sometime at the beginning of 1987, a few months before the inaugural Rugby World Cup kicked off in Auckland and Sydney, the Webb Ellis cup , a beautifully crafted piece of silverware, stood in the vaults of the Royal Jewelers, Garrards, in Regents Street, London.
The cup, made in 1906 by the Garrards silversmiths was a reproduction of a trophy believed to have been made around 1740 by one of the leading artisans of the time Paul de Lamerie, a Huguenot silversmith. Made of sterling silver, gilded in gold, the Cup is adorned by a satyr head on one of the two cast scroll handles, while the other is decorated with a nymph head. The decorative pieces include a bearded mask, lion mask and vine.
The Cup was selected by the Chairman of the 1987 RWC Organising Committee, John Kendall-Carpenter and his colleague Bob Weighill, who was the Honorary Secretary of the International Rugby Football Board. Both felt that a Victorian, not Georgian, piece of silverware would be appropriate. The craftsmanship of the period and the beauty of the trophy would have to project the past into the present. The remaining members of the Rugby World Cup Organising Committee Ronnie Dawson of Ireland, Keith Rowlands of Wales, Bob Stuart of New Zealand, Ross Turnbull of Australia and the RWC Directors Dick Littlejohn of New Zealand and Sir Nick Shehadie of Australia all agreed that this was the Cup that would becoming one of the iconic symbols of sport.
The committee decided that the Cup should be engraved ‘The Webb Ellis Cup’ after the Victorian schoolboy William Webb Ellis who, legend has it, in a fine disregard for the rules of football, picked up the ball and ran with it, thus creating the game of Rugby.
The Cup commenced its march towards legend on May 22 1987 with the RWC opening match New Zealand v Italy and acquires immortality on June 20 at Eden Park, when New Zealand captain David Kirk hoisted it in triumph above his head. Since then, the trophy has travelled the world over. It was touched by Royalty and Aborigine Bushmen, by Maori warriors and French farmers, by African children and Canadian Mounties. It acquired personality and more significantly a symbolic value at the hands of winning captains and players. In 1995, it was given iconic status by the then South African President Nelson Mandela who presented it to his winning captain Francoise Pienaar. Since then it has been presented by Queen Elizabeth II to Australian captain John Eales in 1999, by John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia to Martin Johnson of England in 2003, by Syd Millar, IRB Chairman to John Smit of South Africa in 2007 and Bernard Lapasset IRB Chairman in 2011 to Richie McCaw of New Zealand. It continues to draw crowds wherever it goes.
WEBB ELLIS CUP DIMENSIONS
- Base height 103 mm
- Base width (at widest point) 176 mm
- Cup highest point (top of handles) 282 mm
- Cup height (base to top of cup) 244 mm
- Cup width (widest point, handle to handle) 319 mm
- Cup width (no handles) 171 mm
- Lid height 146 mm
- Lid width 180 mm
- Height of Cup base and lid together 472 mm
(N.B. there is an overlap from lid to cup and cup to base)
- Weight of Cup 3 kgs
- Weight of Cup and Base 4.5 kgs
WEBB ELLIS CUP CASE DIMENSIONS
- The case is 425mm x 360mm x 220mm and weighs 9kgs with the Cup in it.