Seven things you may not know about the men’s Rugby World Cup
As we move into the quarter-finals of RWC 2023, here are a few fascinating facts with which to entertain and educate your rugby-loving (and non-rugby-loving) friends.
England’s Jonny Wilkinson is the tournament’s top points scorer of all time – 277 points from one try, 28 conversions, 58 penalties, and 14 drop-goals, including that iconic moment in extra time of the 2003 final against Australia. Until very recently, Wilkinson was also England’s top scorer of all time. However, during the RWC 2023 pool match against Samoa, Owen Farrell surpassed his record of 1,179 points.
Jonah Lomu of New Zealand and Brian Habana of South Africa share the honours of top try scorer in one competition, both scoring eight – Lomu in 1995 and Habana in 2007.
If all the residents of Rugby (the town) visited Twickenham Stadium, there’d be almost 4,000 spare seats! Twickenham’s seating capacity is 82,000 – making it the world’s largest rugby stadium – and the town’s population is 78,117 (based on 2021 UK Census data).
This year, Wayne Barnes of England has become the first referee to officiate in five RWC tournaments.
Only five teams have made it to the final: Australia, England, France, New Zealand, and South Africa.
England is the most successful of the “Home Nations”, finishing three times as runner-up and once as champion. Wales was third in 1987, and Scotland was fourth in 1991. Ireland is the only Home Nation team not to have progressed past the quarter-finals.
From 1987 until 2015, the same whistle was used to start every RWC opening game. Named for the Welsh referee who first used it in 1905 when New Zealand played England at Crystal Palace, the Gil Evans whistle is made of sterling silver. In 1969, it was donated to the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North, where it remains on display to this day. Due to concerns about its condition and potential risk of damage, the whistle was retired prior to the 2019 championship.