When Sir Nicholas Shehadie received a late-night phone call from his co-chairman of the organising committee on the eve of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, he was expecting the worst. Shehadie had just endured a heated two-year journey to bring the first event to fruition amid strong resistance from the Home Unions of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He and his co-chairmen had even survived attempts to be overthrown by the international governing body, but this call brought a challenge of a more humorous kind...
‘John Kendall-Carpenter rang me just prior to the World Cup starting and he said, “Son we have a problem ... we haven’t got a trophy”. I never thought about it too much and it seems nobody else did either,’ Shehadie recalls. ‘John then went down to Garrards [the Crown jewellers] in London and found this cup. He rang me and said he could buy it for £6000. I had no hesitation in telling him to do it.’
The last-minute efforts of Kendall-Carpenter yielded the coveted trophy that is now the ultimate prize in world rugby – The Webb Ellis Cup, named after student William Webb Ellis of Rugby College in England, who is famously attributed with creating the distinctive feature of the rugby game. The trophy – now more affectionately known in many parts of the rugby world as ‘Bill’ – represents global supremacy of the game, and the story of how countries have gone in pursuit of rugby’s ultimate prize is equally compelling as the history of how this grand tournament was born.
From modest beginnings in 1987, the Rugby World Cup now has the alluring aura that inspires everything a rugby country can muster. It is all or nothing, and their goal is plain and simple. They have come to reach the pinnacle of a four-year quest. They have come to lay their claim for the ultimate prize in world rugby. They have come In Pursuit Of Bill.
|Publisher||New Holland Publishers|
|Publication date||November, 2011|
|Length||416 pages (400pp text + 16pp full colour imagery)|
|Design/Production||New Holland Publishers|
|Image supplier||Action Images Ltd (Reuters)|
|Binding/Format/Size||Hardback, portrait – 25cm x 17cm|
|Retail Price||$32.95 AUD|