King George V presents the King’s Cup to James Ryan, captain of the New Zealand Services Rugby Team, after the team’s win in the Inter-Services Tournament at Twickenham rugby ground, London in 1919. Major General Charles William Melvill and another officer look on. The team some of whom have fern leaf emblems on their jerseys are standing in a line. A film cameraman appears in the background. Photograph taken April 1919 by Thomas Frederick Scales.
The Forgotten Story of
The First Ever ‘World Cup’
In 1919, in the aftermath of WWI, a group of international rugby teams gathered in Britain for The King’s Cup, a tournament unprecedented in its time but little remembered today. Some rugby historians have dubbed The King’s Cup as the ‘First Rugby World Cup Tournament.’
On October 31, the two finalists of the 2015 Rugby World Cup will take to the hallowed turf of Twickenham for what will be the finale of, officially at least, the 8th edition of a tournament that began in 1987. But on the same pitch on April 19, 1919 – some 96 years ago – military teams representing New Zealand and Great Britain faced off in the final of what, for all intents and purposes, was a World Cup in all but name: The King’s Cup.
Along with the two finalists, military teams from Canada, Australia and South Africa took part, as well as an RAF side made up of players from various nations. It was a gathering of international rugby talent that had never been seen before.
Read more »