Tuesday 5 October 2021

150th anniversary of Rugby Union - set of 8 - 19 October 2021

Royal Mail will issue a set of 8 stamps depicting action from ruby union international games to mark the 150th anniversary of the Rugby Football Union, and the first international match when an England team responded to a challenge from five of Scotland's club captains.

According to Royal Mail's publicity for the set:

The popularity of the ‘rugby’ style of football, and the corresponding need for universal laws, saw 21 English clubs meet in London on 26 January 1871 to form the Rugby Football Union. The first set of laws was approved later that year, and not long after England met Scotland’s challenge in the first rugby international.

Rugby continues to evolve today and is becoming an ever more inclusive sport. At the last count, rugby union is being played in 124 countries by some 10 million players, approaching three million of whom are female, and broadcasts of domestic and international fixtures are watched by millions.

The stamps

Set of 8 mint stamps featuring iconic moments in key rugby union matches over the past 60 years for
all four home nations and covering both the men’s and women’s game. The striking stamp designs
feature selective colourisation set against a monochrome background.

Set of 8 stamps issued 19 October 2021 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Rugby Football Union. (C) Royal Mail.

The details:

2nd Class Women’s Rugby World Cup Final, 2014.  After defeat in three successive finals, England win the World Cup. Tries from Emily Scarratt (pictured, with ball) and Danielle Waterman secure victory.

2nd Class Five Nations Championship, 1970.  A victory marking the start of a glorious era in Welsh rugby for a side featuring greats like JPR Williams (pictured), Gareth Edwards and Mervyn Davies.

1st Class Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2015.  Needing to win to secure the title, a rampant Ireland – with lock Sophie Spence (pictured) to the fore – ran in 11 tries to become champions.

1st Class Five Nations Championship, 1984.  Scrum-half Roy Laidlaw (pictured, with ball) scored two tries as Scotland became outright winners of the Five Nations Championship for the first time since 1938.

£1.70 Women’s Home Nations Championship, 1998.  Led by Kim Littlejohn (pictwured, far left), Scotland complete a five-year journey from novices to best team in Europe with a win that boosted the sport’s status in the country.

£1.70 Five Nations Championship, 1994.   Ireland upset the odds to win at Twickenham for the first time in 12 years – a brilliant try by Simon Geoghegan (pictured) inspiring a generation of great players.

£2.55 Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2009.  Non Evans kicks the winning penalty in the final minute as Wales, captained by Melissa Berry (pictured), beat England for the first time and win the Triple Crown.

£2.55 Rugby World Cup Final, 2003.  Jason Robinson’s try and five successful kicks from Jonny Wilkinson (pictured), see England become the first northern hemisphere country to win the World Cup.

Technical Details

The 37 x 35 mm stamps, designed by True North, are printed by International Security Printers in litho with ordinary gum in se-tenant horizontal pairs.  

Acknowledgements:  Stamp designs produced under licence with kind permission of The Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby Union Limited, The Welsh Rugby Union Limited and The Irish Rugby Football Union. England Rugby and the England Rugby rose are official trade marks of The Rugby Football Union and are subject to extensive trade mark registrations. The Scottish Rugby and stylised thistle logo are registered trade marks of Scottish Rugby Union Limited and used by Royal Mail Group Limited under licence from Scottish Rugby Union Limited. The Welsh Rugby Union logo is an official trade mark of The Welsh Rugby Union Limited and is subject to extensive trade mark registrations worldwide. The shamrock rugby ball is an official trade mark of The Irish Rugby Football Union and is subject to extensive trade mark registrations.

Images: England v Canada – Women’s Rugby World Cup Final, 2014 © Jordan Mansfield/Stringer/Getty Images Sport;
England v Wales – Five Nations Championship, 1970 © S&G/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport/PA Images;
Scotland v Ireland – Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2015 © INPHO/Dan Sheridan;
Ireland v Scotland – Five Nations Championship, 1984 © Independent News and Media/Contributor/Hulton/Getty Images;
Scotland v England – Women’s Home Nations Championship, 1998 © 1998 Marc Aspland/The Times of London/News Licensing;
England v Ireland – Five Nations Rugby Championship, 1994 © Colorsport/Colin Elsey;
Wales v England – Women’s Six Nations Championship, 2009 © Stu Forster /Staff/Getty Images Sport;
Australia v England – Rugby World Cup Final, 2003 © Phil Walter/Staff/Getty Images Sport Classic.

Additional Products

Presentation Pack, First Day Cover, Stamp Cards.   Stamps may be bought in pairs (multiples of 5).

Framed prints of the 2nd class JPR Williams stamp, or the £3.55 Jonny Wilkinson stamp (also available signed). 

As usual we are not stocking these products which can be obtained on the Royal Mail website.

Comment.  Although there have been many previous rugby stamps from Royal Mail it is a popular subject and at least in this case is commemorating historical events on a sensible anniversary.

UPDATE 18 October.

CP reports that a local post office was happy to sell these on 12 October, and stated that the cards (always available a week before the stamps) were available on 5th.  Sadly the one that he posted arrived without a legible date.  I checked with my nearest office which has special stamps, the Crown PO in Dereham and of course they said, not until 19th.  The office I more regularly use for posting doesn't take special stamps any more.


  1. So over three times as many Men play Rugby as Women but they get four stamps each? Righty-ho then.

  2. Only thinking that they were like more colourful versions of the 2015 set, I hadn’t looked at the stamps closely enough to notice that half of the players were women.

  3. The poor old English are depicted as getting beaten by everyone - Scots, Welsh (twice) and Irish and allowed only to be shown beating the Canadians (which does not sound like much of an achievement) and, hilariously, the Australians. Well, I suppose beating the Australians is really all that England needs to do for a good laugh especially as the stamp’s rate should see it safely dropping in Australian letter boxes fixed to any mail the English choose to send there. Don’t tell Glenn.

    1. I've now had a proper look at the eight stamps and noticed two players of 23 of an ethnic minority which I'm not sure is proportionate.
      I've never followed rugby or any other sport but had totted up the scores and concluded that Wales are most successful with winning all (both) games, Scotland and Ireland come next with each winning two and losing one, England is next winning two but losing four and the Dominions, Australia and Canada, come last with each losing their game. Yes, £2.55 is the rate for reminding the Aussies !

    2. Most of my overseas letters are under 20g, so £1.70, but occasionally go over the 20g. Christmas cards can be quite heavy, especially if I enclose a letter inside.

  4. I would have thought that on such an auspicious anniversary the inventor of the game, William Webb Ellis would have got a mention?

    1. Older Than the Pyramids5 October 2021 at 20:54

      The 200th anniversary of his infamous cheating will be in 2023, so a reason for another rugby-related issue in two years' time.

  5. I think too many people are looking for something to criticise.

    Ethnic minorities? I'm not sure which ones you mean (not Wales, surely :-{ ) It is well known that Fiji, Tonga, Japan had some very good players, but the focus here is on the home nations and while some of the players from those ethnicities were welcomed into the UK national teams, that was more recently and the matches shown go back to 1970!


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