Caps, Crowns and Rugby Football

On a wall in The Close at Rugby School is a plaque which commemorates the occasion in 1823 when, ‘with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, William Webb Ellis first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the Rugby game.’

Sixteen years later, in 1839, Queen Adelaide, consort of King William IV, visited the school. As a compliment to the Queen, the boys of School House lined the quadrangle, dressed in their best and wearing caps of crimson velvet with gold tassels. The Queen, having heard about Rugby’s new version of football, asked to see a game; the boys immediately obliged, School House still dressed in their best and wearing their caps – the first time a ‘team uniform’ was ever worn for football, and the first time players were ever ‘capped’. Not that the game was quite the same as it is these days – School House (75 players) took on ‘The Rest’ (225 players), and presumably as the Queen was watching it didn’t last quite as long as the usual three or four days! I’m happy to record that the velvet-capped School House team won!

I’m never likely to receive a cap – velvet or otherwise – for playing any sort of sport, but I’m looking forward to receiving a crown one day. The Apostle Paul, nearing the end of his earthly life, wrote to his friend Timothy:

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

When I think of my dear Saviour, how can I not love His appearing? That He who is Lord of all, the brightness of the Father’s glory, should stoop to appear in this sad, sinful world; should live a perfect life on my behalf; should die on the Cross to suffer the punishment which I deserved; and should be raised again for my justification – surely I love that appearing!

And then came the day when I turned to Him in repentance and faith – the ‘day of my visitation’. At the time I thought I turned and came to Him, only to discover that really He had opened my eyes and drawn me to Himself. I love that appearing too.

Now I am looking forward to that Day, which is surely coming, when as He Himself promised, ‘The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels.’ (Matthew 16:27) And when, by His grace, I receive that righteous crown, what a joy and a wonder it will be to join the ransomed in glory and cast my crown before the throne, saying ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power...’

(Revelation 4:11)


Crown Him with many crowns,

The Lamb upon His throne;

Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns

All music but its own.

Awake, my soul, and sing

Of Him who died for thee,

And hail Him as thy chosen King

Through all eternity.


Crown Him the Lord of years,

The Potentate of time,

Creator of the rolling spheres,

Ineffably sublime!

All hail, Redeemer, hail!

For Thou hast did for me:

Thy praise shall never, never fail

Throughout eternity.

Bridges & Thring