Sunday, November 1, 2009


England has a strong sporting heritage, and during the 19th century codified many sports that are now played around the world. Sports originating in England include association football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, badminton, squash, rounders,[249] hockey, boxing, snooker, billiards, curling, darts, table tennis, bowls, netball, thoroughbred horseracing and fox hunting. It has helped the development of sailing and Formula One. Football is the most popular of these sports. The England national football team, whose home venue is Wembley Stadium, won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, the year the country hosted the competition. At club level England is recognised by FIFA as the birth-place of club football, due to Sheffield FC founded in 1857 being the oldest club. The Football Association is the oldest of its kind, FA Cup and The Football League were the first cup and league competitions respectively. In the modern day the Premier League is the world's most lucrative football league and amongst the elite.[251] The European Cup has been won by Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, while Arsenal, Chelsea and Leeds United have reached the final.

Men in cricket whites play upon a green grass cricket field amidst a stadium.

England on the way to victory against Australia in the 2009 Ashes series at Lord's Cricket Ground

Cricket is generally thought to have been developed in the early medieval period among the farming and metalworking communities of the Weald.[253] The England cricket team is a composite England and Wales team. One of the game's top rivalries is The Ashes series between England and Australia, contested since 1882. The finale of the 2009 Ashes was watched by nearly 2 million people, although the climax of the 2005 Ashes was viewed by 7.4 million as it was available on terrestrial television.[254] England are the current holders of the trophy and are fifth in both Test and One Day International cricket.[255] England has hosted four Cricket World Cups (1975, 1979, 1983, 1999) and the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009. There are several domestic level competitions, including the County Championship in which Yorkshire are by far the most successful club having won the competition 31 times.[256] Lord's Cricket Ground situated in London is sometimes referred to as the "Mecca of Cricket".[257] William Penny Brookes was prominent in organising the format for the modern Olympic Games. London hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, and will host them again in 2012. England competes in the Commonwealth Games, held every four years. Sport England is the governing body responsible for distributing funds and providing strategic guidance for sporting activity in England. A Grand Prix is held at Silverstone.[258]

White men in grey suits, pale blue shirts and red ties celebrate upon the top floor of an open-top bus. On man holds a golden trophy in the air with one hand.

England rugby union team won the 2003 Rugby World Cup

The England rugby union team won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the country was one of the host nations of the competition in the 1991 Rugby World Cup and is set to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The top level of club participation is the English Premiership. Leicester Tigers, London Wasps, Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints have had success in the Europe-wide Heineken Cup. In another form of the sport—rugby league which was born in Huddersfield in 1898, the England national rugby league team are ranked third in the world and first in Europe. Since 2008 England has been a full test nation in lieu of the Great Britain national rugby league team, which won three World Cups but is now retired. Club sides play in Super League, the present-day embodiment of the Rugby Football League Championship. Some of the most successful clubs include Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants; the former three have all won the World Club Challenge previously. In tennis the Wimbledon Championships are the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely considered the most prestigious.

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