Oval ball begins global journey to mark Rugby School's 450th anniversary - The Rugby Observer

Oval ball begins global journey to mark Rugby School's 450th anniversary

Rugby Editorial 11th Jan, 2017 Updated: 13th Jan, 2017   0

A RUGBY ball began its journey around the world as Rugby School officially launched its year-long 450th anniversary celebrations.

Pupils launched The Global Pass at a ceremony on Monday (January 9).

Inspired by the journey of the Olympic Torch, the DHL-tracked ball will be passed across the globe 450 times – even taking in the South Pole along the way.

The Global Pass was the brainchild of Old Rugbeians, Toby Marsh and Matthew Hodder-Williams, who have worked with DHL to plot the ball’s journey around the world to include William Webb Ellis’s tomb in France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and across the Americas.




Hundreds of staff, former pupils and guests attended the event, at which a new Rugby School history book and exhibition – called From Elizabeth to Elizabeth – was also launched, illustrating the school’s history against a backdrop of national and global events.

The anniversary marks 450 years since Lawrence Sheriff – grocer and purveyor of spices to Queen Elizabeth I – left a legacy to found a school.


Chair of the Governing Body Lucinda Holmes – who was one of the school’s first female pupils – said: “That generous gift of £50, and eight acres of orchard in what is now Bloomsbury in central London, was given to fund the education of the boys of Rugby, which has – without exaggeration – influences so many thousands of lives.

“This anniversary is about giving thanks for the bequest, and everything it has bestowed on us all, and on the generations before us.

“And it is a message that Lawrence Sheriff’s bequest is thriving, and will carry many more generations of Rugbeians into the 21st century and beyond.”

Head Master Peter Green said: “It’s a momentous occasion. You don’t often have the opportunity as a headmaster to celebrate a school’s 450th anniversary.

“When Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, she hadn’t even lost her head, but there were boys at Rugby School.”

He added he was confident the town and the school would continue to grow together and capitalise on Rugby’s growing profile.

He said: “We really want to ensure we work hand-in-glove with the World Rugby Hall of Fame and Rugby Borough Council to ensure the name of the town continues to be spread.

“If we have an influx of visitors coming to the World Rugby Hall of Fame, we want to ensure that we can facilitate visits to The Close (the playing field where rugby football originated), which belongs to the school but also to the town, and it’s iconic for people right throughout the world – you saw that with the many thousands who visited during the Rugby World Cup.

“I’ve been here for three years and I’ve seen the town develop enormously in that time. I think Rugby is a great place and it’s on an upward curve.”

The year of celebrations will include an international schools rugby sevens tournament in March, a street festival in London’s Bloomsbury in April to celebrate Lawrence Sheriff’s bequest, the premiere of a new documentary film, and the first performances of the 450th Overture composed by Rugbeian Nathan Williamson and the 450th Anniversary Anthem composed by Simon Johnson, organist of St Pauls’ Cathedral.

Visit www.rugbyschool.co.uk/450th/the-global-pass to keep track of the Global Pass.

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