First ever rugby match to be re-enacted as part of game's bicentenary celebrations - The Rugby Observer

First ever rugby match to be re-enacted as part of game's bicentenary celebrations

Rugby Editorial 14th Jun, 2023   0

THE FIRST ever rugby match, which took place 200 years ago, will be re-enacted during a day of celebrations at the birthplace of the game.

Rugby School, in partnership with the children’s charity of rugby, Wooden Spoon, will mark the twin milestones of the bicentenary of rugby football and Wooden Spoon’s 40th birthday on Saturday June 24.

The day will include a re-enactment of the first time William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran, with a ‘fine disregard for the rules’, on The Close, the same pitch on which he played.

It will also feature re-enactments of key points in the sport’s history, and a Vets and Legends match in association with the charity.




Pupils from the school in costume will take part in the re-enactment, which will also showcase key moments including the introduction of the first caps, the first referees, how the rules have evolved, the first woman to play rugby in c1884, and the first Rugby World Cup.

The women’s Wooden Spoon Vets and Legends match will feature Red Rose World Cup winners Tamara Taylor and Gill Burns MBE leading the squads, which are made up of Wooden Spoon National Vets and Rugby School staff. Rugby World Cup winner Heather Fisher will also take part.


The men’s Wooden Spoon Vets and Legends match will feature Scotland’s Alex Grove captaining a team, with squads also made up of Wooden Spoon National Vets and Rugby School staff.

All games will be commentated by John Taylor and livestreamed by NextGenXV.

Hundreds of spectators are expected, with tickets available online and on the day at the gate. All funds raised will be split equally between Rugby School’s 1823 Bursary Fund and Wooden Spoon.

The 1823 Bursary Fund will enable boys or girls who show significant promise and aptitude for sport and a commitment to rugby football, to benefit from a fully means tested place at Rugby School worth up to 100 per cent of the fees.

Wooden Spoon will donate their portion of the proceeds to fund life-changing projects which support vulnerable children and young people across the UK and Ireland.

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