On January 26, 1871, at the Pall Mall Restaurant on London’s Regent Street, a meeting took place between representatives from 21 rugby clubs, many of which are still going strong today. The men – average age, 23 – together created the world’s first governing body for rugby.
That meeting also saw 20 players selected to represent England in their first ever international contest on 27 March 1871, following a challenge issued by Scotland.
The 150 years that have followed the formation of the RFU has featured some key events, including the purchase and development of Twickenham Stadium, the ‘great schism’ that saw the development of the rugby league, the formation of the Women’s Rugby Football Union and Britain’s men winning silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics when rugby sevens made its Olympic debut.
The RFU has also survived two World Wars, during which 41 England Internationalists lost their lives, alongside thousands of community game players.
Testing times have disrupted both the game and the 150th celebrations this year, though commemorative activity is pressing ahead, including the creation of a new Heritage Rose taking inspiration from the first rose that featured on the caps of the 1871 team (it’s still on caps today), a coffee table book and an exhibition at Twickenham, planned for later this year.
There is also a very limited – there’s 150 of them – new watch, made by Bremont, England Rugby’s official timing partner.
The Bremont RFU 150 is a 43mm stainless steel chronograph with a 24-hour GMT hand. Its blue dial is inspired by the England rugby team’s alternative kit, with the inner ring stamped "Twickenham". The case back features the above-mentioned new Heritage Rose emblem.
“It was an incredibly proud moment for me when I first saw Bremont timekeeping presiding over play at Twickenham,” says Bremont's co-founder, Giles English. “It has obviously been an incredibly challenging year… but not being able to enjoy sport in the same way has certainly highlighted its importance for so many.
"We’re very much looking forward to seeing the Guinness Six Nations kick off and we’re thrilled to be part of these anniversary celebrations.”
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