England - Sports

Sports

Main article: Sport in England

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, hockey, boxing, snooker, billiards, darts, table tennis, bowls, netball, thoroughbred horseracing, greyhound racing 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 1966 FIFA World Cup against the West Germany national football team where they won 4–2, with Geoff Hurst scoring a hatrick. That was the year the country hosted the competition.

At club level England is recognised by FIFA as the birthplace 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. The European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) has been won by Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Chelsea, while Arsenal, and Leeds United have reached the final.

Cricket is generally thought to have been developed in the early medieval period among the farming and metalworking communities of the Weald. 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. England are the current holders of the trophy and are ranked 1st in Test and 4th in One Day International cricket.

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. Lord's Cricket Ground situated in London is sometimes referred to as the "Mecca of Cricket". William Penny Brookes was prominent in organising the format for the modern Olympic Games. London has hosted the Summer Olympic Games three times, in 1908, 1948, and 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.

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 1895, 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. The United Kingdom is to host the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. In tennis, the Wimbledon Championships are the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely considered the most prestigious.

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