There are three possibilities as to why the English Rugger jerseys originally featured the now famous red rose symbol.
The first can be traced back to the Tudor rose (sometimes called the Union rose). This is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the Tudor dynasty. Henry VII brought the end of the ‘Wars of the Roses’ between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Henry’s mother was Margaret Beaufort from the House of Lancaster; in January 1486 he married Elizabeth of York to bring all factions together and adopted the Tudor rose badge conjoining the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. Therefore, the English rose is not red, but half red and half white. However, subsequent monarchs (such as Elizabeth I) continued to be associated with the red rose because they were descended from the House of Lancaster.
The second reason involves a man called Lawrence Sheriff who as well as amassing a vast fortune during his career, he was eventually presented with a coat of arms by Elizabeth I who also allowed him to use her red rose on his own family crest. When Lawrence passed away, his will stipulated that his money should be used to found a school to educate the children in his home town of Rugby and Brownsover. Rugby School, which gave its name to the sport when William Webb Ellis first picked up a football on the sports field and ran with it, subsequently based its coat of arms on that of Lawrence Sheriff, and so the red rose ended up on the Rugby School crest. It’s a known fact that the white kit worn by England is taken from the kit used at Rugby School, so it’s not unrealistic to think that the England rugby rose was also taken from the school crest as a badge.
The third and final possible reason dates back to the first ever rugby union international match between England and Scotland in 1871. Of the group of players who selected the first England side, two came from clubs in Lancashire (Liverpool and Manchester), and therefore opted to use the red rose of Lancaster as an emblem of the national team. Although somewhat plausible, it is highly unlikely that the other members of the selection committee would have agreed to such an obviously regional emblem being used on the national jersey.
There have been many red rose symbols used on English jerseys over the years, since the first international in 1871. The new Ellis Rugby version gets it’s inspiration from the version worn on the 1914 jersey.
The English 1871 Rugger Shirt is manufactured from satin touch 100% cotton and features detailed applique rose crest patch, matching inner placket, cuffs and collar, herringbone detail on vents and tape on the neck opening. In addition stylish cross-hatch stitching on the chest and shoulder panels along with the subtle Ellis Rugby branding on the collar stand and ecru coloured logo on the arm. We also feature ‘Gold embroidery on the tail ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’. Available in sizes S – 5XL.