By Denise McCarty
England will host the eighth Rugby World Cup Sept. 18 through Oct. 31, and Royal Mail will issue eight stamps for the event on the opening day.
The design firm Hat-Trick designed the stamps, using illustrations by Geoff Appleton of various action-filled rugby plays in black-and-white.
Royal Mail described the illustrations as being in a “gritty style” that was “reminiscent of a comic or graphic novel.”
Royal Mail also said, “… The unusual angles and compositions put the viewer right in the thick of the action — inside the scrum, watching a ball as it flies over the post, observing a pass being made to a player behind. “
Each design also includes the silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II in the upper right, the denomination or service indicator in the upper left, and the official Rugby World Cup 2015 logo in the lower left.
The stamps are in four se-tenant (side-by-side) pairs.
A tackle and a scrum are pictured, respectively, on the pair of nondenominated stamps inscribed “2nd” to denote that they pay the domestic second-class rate, currently 54 pence.
The purpose of the scrum is to restart play after a minor infringement or stoppage. Eight of each team’s 15 players participate in the scrum.
Another pair of nondenominated stamps pay the first-class rate, 63p.
One design depicts a player who has just scored a try. According to World Rugby’s beginning guide to Rugby Union, “A try [worth five points] is scored when the ball is grounded over the opponents’ goal line in the in-goal area. “
After scoring a try, a team can gain an additional two points by kicking the ball through the goalposts. Known as a conversion, this is illustrated on the other first-class stamp.
The pair of £1 stamps picture a pass and drop goal, respectively. In a drop goal, which is worth three points, the ball is dropped to the ground and bounces before it is kicked through the goalposts.
One of the two £1.52 stamps illustrates a ruck, which can look almost as confusing as its World Rugby definition sounds: “A ruck is formed if the ball is on the ground and one or more players from each team who are on their feet close around it. Players must not handle the ball in the ruck, and must use their feet to move the ball or drive over it so that it emerges at the team’s hindmost foot, at which point it can be picked up.”
The final stamp illustrates line-out, a means of restarting play when the ball has gone out of bounds.
International Security Printers printed the stamps by offset in sheets of 60, sold in panes of 30 at most postal outlets.
Each stamp measures 41 millimeters by 30mm and is perforated gauge 14.5 by 14.
The sheet stamps are moisture-activated, while the two first-class Rugby World Cup stamps included in a booklet are self-adhesive.
This booklet also contains four nondenominated first-class silver Queen Elizabeth II definitives with background security text that reads “Long to Reign Over Us.”
The booklet stamps were printed in gravure by International Security Printers.
Other Royal Mail products offered in conjunction with the Rugby World Cup issue include first-day covers, eight postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps, and a presentation pack with text by sports writer and journalist Richard Rae.
In the pack, Rae says of rugby’s origins: “Popular history has it that in 1823, William Web Ellis, a pupil at rugby school in England, picked up a football and disregarding the rules of the round-ball game, ran carrying it toward the opposition goal. Although games with similarities to Rugby had been played in the UK, and further afield for centuries, the story of the schoolboy’s daring action has been celebrated as a pivotal event.”
The Rugby World Cup stamps are available at Royal Mail’s online shop. Ordering information also is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland.