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Rugby World Cup 2015

by Hannah Knight

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To celebrate the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Preparation and materials


  1. Put your hand up if you know what big sporting event is taking place between 18 September and 31 October?

    Well done. Between 18 September and 31 October is the Rugby World Cup, which is one of the world's most admired sporting competitions, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

    Who can tell me who won the last Rugby World Cup in 2011? (New Zealand)

    Which country is the host for this year’s Rugby World Cup? (England)

    The World Cup takes place every four years and consists of 20 teams from all over the country. 

    The first-ever World Cup took place in 1987 and consisted of only 16 teams, so it has considerably grown over the years.

    The winner of the World Cup will be awarded with the Webb Ellis Cup which is named after the sports founder William Webb Ellis.

  2. William Webb Ellis was born in 1806 in Salford, Manchester. After his father died William moved with his family to Rugby in Warwickshire and attended Rugby School. 

    William was a good scholar and took a great interest in football; although he often broke the rules by picking up the ball with his hands rather than using his feet.

    He later became a well-respected member of the clergy in charge of a parish in Essex. After William died in 1872, an old school friend, Matthew Bloxam, wrote to the Rugby School magazine and declared that the change from a kicking game to a handling game had originated with his friend William, and thereafter William Ellis was declared the founder of rugby.

    Here is a photo of the bronze plaque that is dedicated to William Webb Ellis.

    (Display photo)

  3. Put your hand up if you have ever played rugby? 

    For those of you who do not know the rules, the aim of the game is simple.  You must use the ball to score more points than the other team.

    You can run with the ball, kick it and pass it but you are not allowed to pass it forwards. Unlike football, rugby is a contact sport, so you can tackle an opponent in order to get the ball. To keep things in check, a referee and two touch judges are present during a match to ensure rules are followed.

    You score points in the following ways:

    A try - five points are awarded for touching the ball down in your opponent's goal area.

    A conversion - two points are added for a successful kick through the goalposts after a try.

    A goal kick - three points are awarded for a penalty kick or drop goal through the posts.

    If both teams score the same amount of points, or no points are scored, then the match is a draw. In many cases, extra time is played to decide who wins.

  4. (Display pools table from

    The World Cup is divided into four pools of five teams. 12 teams qualify automatically, based on the results from the previous World Cup.

    The top four ranked teams are put into separate pools; this year it includes: New Zealand, France, Australia and Wales because they were first, second, third and fourth. The remaining eight spots are determined through various regional competitions. There are two from the Americas, two from Europe, two from Asia/Oceania and one for Africa.

    Nations play four pool games, playing their pool members once each. The winner and runner-up of each pool enter the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage consists of quarter and semi-finals, and then of course the final. The winner of each pool is placed against a runner-up of a different pool in a quarter-final.

  5. Not only is the Rugby World Cup a time to be patriotic about our country but also a time to appreciate the importance of teamwork. A match is not successful if every single member does not contribute in some way, and that is a good mantra to follow whenever you are part of a team - be a team player, not just a team follower!

    (Optional: Play video clip of Rugby World Cup 2011)

Time for reflection

Let’s take this time to be thankful for our freedom, our education and all the opportunities that are available to us. Think about all the opportunities you are currently undertaking, who you can thank for these opportunities and what other teamwork opportunities you can get involved with in the future - whether it be volunteering for a charity or joining a sports club. 


'Swing low, sweet chariot' (theme from the World Cup, founded on Paul Simon’s ‘Rhythm of the Saints’)

Publication date: September 2015   (Vol.17 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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