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The Roar


Should we change the name of the Webb Ellis Cup to recognise the competition's most iconic player?

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Roar Rookie
9th September, 2023
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Let’s face it. On a cold, blustery morning of 1823, William Webb Ellis did not invent the sport we know today as rugby. The outcry ensues, “How can you not accept our heroic, daring invention story, rooted in fact?” Believe it or not, this English private school tale with no proven witnesses, probably didn’t occur. Yet, it is Mr Ellis’ name that adorns the greatest trophy in rugby, the Webb Ellis Cup, given to the winners of the World Cup.

I don’t like this name. It’s pretty boring, and take the legend away, is named after a 19th century clergyman. So, if Bill Beaumont, and his World Rugby Council stumble upon this opinion, the obvious question is, what should we rename it as? Let’s take a look.

The World Rugby Rugby World Cup Trophy- The Boring (or cricket) Name
Let’s get this one out of the way first. If Bill took a leaf out of cricket (and I’m sure many other sports’) book, then he would take an even more boring approach. Give it a professional sounding name, whack our organisation in front of it. Done.

The Harold Tolhurst/Bill McLaughlin Trophy- The (pre-1970) Football Name
This one could work, but there could be criticism about just copying football. The Jules Rimet Trophy, the name of the football World Cup before they went the boring way in 1970, was named so as he was the FIFA president who initiated the competition. Two Aussies are up for contention here, for Wallaby Harold Tolhurst, who came up with the idea in the 1950s, faces off against ex RA president Bill McLaughlin, who proposed the idea in 1979, to be held in 1988 to coincide with Australia’s bicentenary celebrations. I think Tolhurst might take it for his earliness.

The David Kirk Trophy- The Kiwi Appreciation Name
It’s been said by many that New Zealand should keep the Webb Ellis trophy after having won it three times, à la Brazil and the Jules Rimet. Whilst I wouldn’t go that far, one way to give credit to the Kiwis would be to name the trophy after one of their most iconic captains, the first ever World Cup winning captain, David Kirk. Then maybe they’ll stop complaining.


The Jonah Lomu Trophy- The Lomu Appreciation Name
Here’s to the most iconic Kiwi. The most iconic player in the history of rugby. When you think of rugby, you think of only one man. Jonah Lomu. How better a tribute, than to name the World Cup trophy after him. Lomu embodies everything there is to rugby: The joy, the power, the skill. Better than your favourite Victorian schoolboy I’d say.

Rugby World Cup, England v New Zealand, Jonah Lomu of New Zealand heads towards the try line

Jonah Lomu scoring yet another 1995 Rugby World Cup try.(Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images)

To end, I’d like to acknowledge that all of these names, bar the first one, are just named after people. I struggled to come up with names, that aren’t just The [insert player] Trophy. Wonder if anyone could think of any non-human names. Comical ones are very much welcomed. Thanks for reading.