10 Things you never knew about the Webb Ellis Cup
ESPN Classic
August 29, 2007

Check out ESPN Classic's 10 facts that you never knew about the William Webb Ellis Cup.

10) The 38 centimetre trophy is gilded silver and is supported by two cast scroll handles. On one handle there is a head of a satyr, on the other there is head of a nymph. On the face of the trophy, the words International Rugby Football Board and below that arch The Webb Ellis Cup are engraved.

9) The cup was crafted at Garrard's workshop, commissioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB), (then, International Rugby Football Board (IRFB)). The cup was modelled on a 1906 trophy made by Carrington and Co. of London, which was a Victorian design of a 1740 cup by Paul de Lamerie.

8) Australian journalists quickly nick-named the trophy 'Billy', and in 1991 - annoyingly, ultimately successfully - launched a collective campaign to 'Bring Billy Back Home', having hosted the tournament, but lost at the semi-final stage, in '87. To make matters even worse, the Wallabies beat England in the '91 Final.

7) England is the only Northern hemisphere country to have won the tournament. And, consequently, lifted the Webb Ellis Cup.

6) Australia is the only nation that has held the trophy twice. A hat-trick was averted by Jonny Wilkinson's right boot in the 2003 Final. A win for the Wallabies would have been even more painful had they had also succeeded in their campaign for the first country to lift the trophy three times to be allowed to keep it.

5) The cup entered the north Americas for the very first time earlier this year. Canada was the venue, during early 2007, when it was on show at the USA versus Canada match for 2007 World Cup qualification.

4) A four-carriage rugby train toured France (during May to November in 2006), stopping in numerous towns over 190 days in promotion for this year's world cup. One of the items on the train was the cup itself. One destination was in fact Menton, where William Webb Ellis spent the last months of his life, and where his grave is today.

3) From the 1st December 2006 until the 6th January 2007, the Webb Ellis Cup was on display at Rugby Museum in Rugby, England, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of William Webb Ellis - the boy who broke the rules by playing football with his hands; and changed the course of sporting history forever.

2) During May of 2007 the cup entered the new territory of the Arabian Gulf, touring the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Might a middle-Eastern team one day win the Webb Ellis Cup far into the future?

1) Martin Johnson reckoned that lifting the iconic trophy was 'no big deal'. As he exclusively revealed in ESPN Classic's fascinating (and exclsuive) 'Johnson On Johnson' profile, he reckoned that "It was cool...but it was a team thing. My ego wasn't such that I couldn't have lived without lifting it. What was bizarre was that, when we got back home, people almost worshipped the trophy. I was at one event where it got wheeled into a room on a table...and the Cup got a standing ovation!"

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