The William Webb Ellis trophy - up for grabs (one of them anyway) at this year's Rugby World Cup (Reuters)
By Dylan Moran
Rugby World Cup 2011 Limited says the William Webb Ellis trophy which toured New Zealand is the genuine article.
3 News reporter Melissa Davies last night cast suspicion on the trophy's authenticity after finding a second Webb Ellis cup being given a polish-up in England before next month's tournament.
But today RWC2011 says while there are two trophies, they both share the same history at the tournament.
“As is common with other major sports tournaments, we have two trophies, however only one is ever used at any given point in time,” says Tournament director Kit McConnell.
“Both cups are equal in stature. There is no original cup as such, they are interchangeable and we don’t distinguish between the two. They were both acquired before the first tournament so share the same Rugby World Cup history."
While there are two trophies, the origin and intent of each remains unclear, and there is some public confusion about the William Webb Ellis cup.
There are claims one is simply a body-double - doing the grunt work with the public, while the other is only touched by the winning team. Others say there is only one trophy, selected as the Rugby World Cup trophy in 1986 but crafted in 1906, and claims of two are just the results of confusion. Then, there are those who believe the 1906 trophy is not actually used in conjunction with the tournament, but was simply used as a basis for the 1986 trophy.
Those subscribing to the latter idea say the design was decided upon by John Kendall-Carpenter, then-secretary of the International Rugby Board and chairman of the first Rugby World Cup's organising committee at a jewellers in London.
The 'original' trophy was crafted in 1906 - itself a replica of a design from 1740. The barely-oval shape of the ball on the trophy suggests the cup’s original use was for a sport other than rugby.
Today's announcement confirms there are in fact two trophies, but RWC2011 and the IRB are being clear in saying they do not believe one to be any more special or original, as the pair have both shared winning memories.
“Both have been used at past tournaments and both have been in the hands of winning captains and teams. They both represent the spirit of the Game.
“I want to reassure New Zealand fans that the Cup they have enjoyed recently on the RWC 2011 Roadshow will be the one held aloft on October 23 by the winning captain,” says Mr McConnell.
It is not certain right now, which of the two cups is touring New Zealand.