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Nicknames of English rugby teams

LONDON WASPS

The majority of people believe that this most famous of all English rugby teams got their nickname from playing in their renowned yellow and black kit. They didn’t. There called the London Wasps, not because they buzz around the place and irritate other teams, but because they were founded in the Victorian era when it was all the rage for sports clubs to adopt the name of insects, birds or animals. They eye-catching and, some would say, nauseating kit, is just a happy accident.

SALE SHARKS

Although the club was founded in 1861, Sale only adopted the Sharks tag quite recently. In a bid to make the club more commercially viable and attractive to the sports fans, they bizarrely thought it may sound sense to name the team after the ‘sharks’ gang from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. This English rugby club’s junior team is also named the Jets after the other infamous West side gang.

SARACENS

Founded in 1876 the club quickly earned a reputation for their endurance, tenacity, power and mobility. So it’s quite fitting they were named after Saladin’s famous desert warriors from the 12th century.

HARLEQUINS

The Harlequins started off life as Hampstead Football Club in 1866, but after members from outside the area started pulling on the shirt, the club needed a new name. Only trouble was, the shirts were all branded HFC, so the new name had to begin with H. Rumour has it that a dictionary was opened at random and the the word ‘Harlequin’ was picked. What a bunch of clowns!

LONDON IRISH

This one needs little explanation. Formed in 1898 this English rugby club provided a place for young Irishmen living in the capital to play their rugby together. The London Welsh, London Scottish, and the Exiles all form apart of a proud tradition of Celts forging their own team identities in the heartland of English rugby.

LEICESTER TIGERS

The Leicestershire Tigers also known as “The Death and Glory Boys” are rumoured to have got their nickname from the Royal Leicestershire Regiment who served in India as the Tigers.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

There religious about there rugby in Northhampton and that’s because the “Saints’ were formed in 1880 by the Reverend Samuel Wathen Wigg. The local clergyman thought rugby was the ideal means for aggressive young men to let off steam in a controlled and sporting environment. And who’s to say he was wrong?

BRISTOL

Spare a though for poor old Bristol. They currently are without a nickname and for years didn’t have one, but from 2001-05 they were known as the Bristol Shoguns. Why? Because a two million advertising deal with Mitsubishi demanded it.

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