The Rugby World Cup has generated a bit of excitement over the past week, but forget all that egg chucking because, although on Saturday we’ll be travelling to the home of the sport, it’s all about the round bag of wind again.
Our quest is taking us to Rugby, where, as legend would have it, in 1823, one William Webb Ellis of Rugby School was involved in a game of ‘English school football’ when he bizarrely picked up the ball and ran with it. This story is debatable, but the school are having none of the alternative genesis theories and have a plaque erected at the school. So there. And of course, the winners of the Rugby World Cup lift the William Webb Ellis trophy so 5 points to Rugby.
But by spoiling a perfectly good game of proper football and creating a new sport, Ellis, at least, did not tarnish the ‘Beautiful Game’ itself. And it’s played in Rugby and in very swanky settings. Swanky for non-league anyway.
Their Butlin Road ground, the host for the 2nd Qualifying Round tie with our side Lincoln United on Saturday (26th), has a capacity of 6,000, and boasts a 500-seater cantilever stand (opened in 2003 by Darius Vassell) and has covering on all four sides of the ground, with seating on two. In fact there are seats for 740 supporters, which might come in useful to me thanks to a bout of Cellulitis.
It also has the VB Bar, which I’m hoping stocks some decent real ale options for my lager-hating companion.
It should be a tight affair, as both clubs are on a level pegging in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South, although Rugby have just one win in nine and lie second bottom, while United have 3 in 8 and lie in 14th position. Both are still some way off of league leaders Stafford Rangers at this early stage.
Rugby’s start to the season has actually been somewhat turbulent, with the resignation of manager Gary Mills coming on September 11. Dale Belford has taken on the role of steadying the ship.
With a change of manager, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a good or bad time to play them, although their last game was a 2-1 defeat away to Markey Drayton.
So while Rugby World Cup fever grips Britain, in its birth place on Saturday, it’ll be football that we’ll be concentrating on.