We’ve looked before at the history of the 3 Lions that our England footie team wear, but what about the rose proudly worn by our national rugby team?
To find the answer, we have to look back first to 1871. This was the year of the first international game between Scotland and England and with it the first appearance of the iconic rose we all know and love. Some wonder why England Rugby didn’t adopt the 3 lions like the other national sport teams, and whilst there’s no definite answer to that question, one theory is that the rose was seen to represent the English monarchy more than the 3 lions.
The War of the Roses
So where does the red rose come? We’ve all heard of the “War of the Roses”, a series of battles which took place over the span of 40 years from 1455 to 1485. The final battle saw Lancastrian Henry Tudor finally defeat Yorkist king Richard III. Henry’s emblem was a red rose; Richard’s was white. The decision by England Rugby to use a red rose as their emblem was seen to symbolise the triumph of the red rose over the white rose. Eventually, Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York, thus uniting the two houses and creating the red and white rose emblem we know today as the English Rose. Later down the line however, monarchs such as Elizabeth I continued to use a red rose to continue their association with the House of Lancaster. With this in mind, England Rugby’s decision to use the red rose would indicate their support of the House of Lancaster, as opposed to the English monarchy as a whole.
Rugby School Association
Another theory behind the decision to use a red rose rises from the fact that the official colour for Rugby School is red. This is where the game of rugby is said to have originated, and the school are very proud of this fact. Elizabeth I, who as above used a red rose as her emblem, presented the school’s founder, Lawrence Shefford, with a coat of arms in which the red rose featured prominently. Further down the line, this inspired the official England Rugby logo.
Whatever the reason, the red rose is certainly a logo we all know and associate with English rugby. It has been through a few different design iterations, but always recognisable. From 1920 the design was standardised and this design remained until 1998, when it was modernised to the design we see today.