NZRM: Rue Webb Ellis – Return of the Sign
In 2013, the New Zealand Rugby Museum (NZRM), found itself in possession of an iconic and landmark rugby street sign, Rue Webb Ellis, from Menton in France. As is the New Zealand way, and for many museums the world over too, we may only retain items legally gifted and or received. So everyone thought, “We had better give it back”, said Stephen Berg, the NZRM Director.
As a personal favour to the NZRM, Pat Nolan, with his long time riding friend, Garry Buys, offered to take back the Rue Webb-Ellis Sign back to Menton, France.
Pat and Garry, along with two rugby-mad French cyclists, three Englishmen, one Scot, one Canadian, and two USA riders will carry the Sign back to its home, via the French Alps. Starting from Lake Annecy, in the North, the Sign will travel 700kms over 16 cols of the Alps section of the Tour de France route, to its final destination, Menton, in the South.
Rugby historians view William Webb Ellis (1806-1872) as inventor of the game of Rugby. During a football match in the latter half of 1823, at Rugby School, England, he picked up and ran with the ball. Further to this, the IRB named the Rugby World Cup as the ‘William Webb Ellis Cup’, forever immortalizing the boy who invented the game of Rugby.
Naming the local rugby club as le Rugby Club Webb Ellis de Menton acknowledges that Menton is the final resting place of William Webb Ellis.
Why NZRM: Rue Webb Ellis – Return of the Sign?
NZRM: Rue Webb Ellis – Return of the Sign is the first in a series of stories that the NZRM will tell and exhibit over the next two to three years as part of the museum development strategy – NZRM Going National. It will initiate, sponsor, and support the telling of stories that connect individuals and communities with rugby, rurally, regionally, and globally, and create exhibitions that commemorate Rugby’s history and contributions; and notably links with the WW1 centennial.