5 Things You Didn't Know About Rugby

From a new bluffer's guide to the game with the oval-shaped ball

New book The Bluffer's Guide to Rugby is a guide to 200 years of the sport.

It aims to turn novices into full-fledged experts (or psuedo-experts at least), all in just 128 pages.

Here, author Steven Gauge pulls out five random (and surprising) facts about the game with the oval-shaped ball, so you too can pass yourself off as a rugby man, even if you're not.

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1 | For a spot of advanced rugby history bluffery, you need to be in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square. Tucked away behind the grand diplomatic buildings that flank Nelson and his pet lions is the site of the Pall Mall restaurant at number 1 Pall Mall. Here was held the original meeting that formed the Rugby Union. There is a plaque, so it must be true.

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2 | Loose head Prop Jason Leonard once observed in a conversation with Scottish commentator and ex-international Ian Robertson that, after a recent poor run of form England would soon rise again from the ashes, "just like a … pheasant." When he was corrected he explained that he knew all along it was "some posh bird that began with an F".

3 | Twickenham, the largest dedicated rugby stadium in the world, is less than half a mile from the enormous Mogden Sewage Treatment Works. Comment that some of the performances you've seen at Twickers would be better suited to the sewage works than the home of rugby.

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4 | Pass for an expert in Welsh rugby by drawing on the work of the comedian Max Boyce. Mr Boyce wrote about a factory hidden underground in the Welsh Mountains, where they dug out the raw material and carved it into outside halves for Wales. So when a Welsh player in any position is having a good game, muse "It looks like Max Boyce's factory is turning out some new models".

5 | In 1977 a group of quadriplegic athletes in Winnipeg, Canada wanted to create an alternative to wheelchair basketball. The game they devised was called Murderball owing to the rather violent collisions between chair, floor and human flesh and bone that it encouraged. Presumably after a meeting or two with some re-branding consultants, it became known as Wheelchair Rugby.

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