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Matchday Rituals and Superstitions in Rugby

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In the world of rugby, players and fans alike cling to rituals for a winning edge. From pre-match haka dances to lucky undies, superstitions run deep in this sport. Our blog unveils the fascinating customs that could be your team’s secret weapon on matchday.

Prepare to dive into a realm where routine meets mystique!

Key Takeaways

  • Many rugby players and fans follow matchday rituals and superstitions, such as wearing lucky undergarments, performing ancestral dances like the haka, or adhering to specific pre-game routines.
  • Top rugby players, for example Dan Biggar and Grant Fox, have personal superstitions that they believe enhance their performance; this includes meticulous routines like adjusting a kicking tee or practicing kicks at a certain time.
  • Superstitions are not just limited to players; research shows that three out of four British fans also engage in unusual pre-match rituals when supporting their favourite teams.
  • Rugby’s rich culture is reflected in these traditions which vary from team handshakes and special meal plans to touching signs for ancestors before games — practices thought to bring good luck on the pitch.
  • While some argue that these beliefs provide psychological benefits by giving a sense of control and routine, others see them as potential distractions that can lead to anxiety if not fulfilled.

Superstitions and Rituals in Rugby

Rugby has a rich history of superstitions and rituals, from the traditional haka war dance to the personal routines of top players like Dan Biggar and Grant Fox. These customs and beliefs are deeply ingrained in the sport’s culture and have a significant impact on matchday preparations.

The traditional haka war dance

Before a match begins, fans are often treated to the powerful and emotional haka war dance performed by New Zealand’s rugby team. This ritual is steeped in Maori tradition and serves as both a challenge to opponents and an expression of unity for the team.

Players perform with intense facial expressions and movements, drawing on cultural heritage to start their game with fierce determination.

Spectators worldwide recognise this pregame performance as unique among rugby matchday rituals. It sets an electrifying tone for the match, showcasing deep respect towards ancestral warriors while psyching up players for the battle ahead.

The haka has become synonymous with New Zealand Rugby, illustrating how deeply rooted traditions contribute to the sport’s spirit and intensity.

Personal superstitions and rituals of top rugby players: Dan Biggar, Steve Hansen, Mike Catt, David Campese, Alan Whetton, John Smit, Luther Burrell, Simon Taylor, Grant Fox

Top rugby players have a range of personal superstitions and pre-game rituals that they adhere to before each match. These include unique habits and routines that are regarded as essential for their performance on the field. Here is an insight into the individual superstitions and rituals of some of the top rugby players:

  1. Dan Biggar: Known for his meticulous routine of adjusting his kicking tee precisely before every conversion.
  2. Steve Hansen: Famously wears the same tie during matches, believing it brings good luck to his team.
  3. Mike Catt: Routinely wears white tape on his socks during matches, a practice he has followed throughout his career.
  4. David Campese: Had a tradition of singing “Waltzing Matilda” in the changing room before every match, considered to bring good fortune to his team.
  5. Alan Whetton: Would meticulously arrange his shoes in a specific order before taking to the field.
  6. John Smit: Has a ritual of touching the door frame or crossbar as he enters the field, symbolic of entering with strength and confidence.
  7. Luther Burrell: Believes in wearing two pairs of socks during matches for added comfort and good luck.
  8. Simon Taylor: Follows a specific stretching routine before every game, ensuring he completes it without deviation each time.
  9. Grant Fox: Practised kicking goals at precisely 2 pm on game days, deeming it crucial for success.

The prevalence of superstitions in rugby

From routine clothing and religious rituals to lucky undies and unusual pre-game routines, superstitions are prevalent in the world of rugby. It’s not just the players who have their own set of beliefs — fans also indulge in strange superstitions when supporting their teams during tournaments.

Research has shown that three out of four Brits have unusual superstitions related to backing their favorite rugby team. This goes to show that superstitious behavior is deeply ingrained within the rugby community, from players to supporters alike.

The Power of Pre-Game Rituals

Three out of four Brits believe in pre-game rituals, and rugby players are no exception. Learn about some unusual pre-game rituals of rugby league players and the impact they have on their performance.

Three out of four Brits believe in pre-game rituals

Three in four Brits hold pre-game rituals close to their hearts. Whether it’s a specific meal, wearing lucky clothing, or following a routine, many rugby fans have unique superstitions when supporting their team during tournaments.

Research indicates that these rituals are deeply ingrained in the fan base and play a pivotal role in building excitement and camaraderie before matches. From lucky fajitas for England’s rugby team to setting up an elaborate match day routine, these customs not only give fans a sense of control and tradition but also contribute to the overall experience of game day.

Rugby traditions extend beyond the players onto the devoted followers who believe in their own superstitious acts, adding an extra layer of anticipation and joy to match days.

Unusual pre-game rituals of rugby league players

Rugby league players have their own distinctive pre-game superstitions and rituals that have become an integral part of the sport. These customs, often passed down through generations, reflect the unique culture of rugby. Some of these unusual pre-game rituals include:

  1. Taping their boots in a specific pattern believed to bring good luck on the field.
  2. Carrying a special token, such as a coin or a small trinket, for luck during the game.
  3. Performing a specific handshake ritual with teammates before taking the field.
  4. Wearing the same socks for every game, believing it brings consistency and luck.
  5. Touching a certain spot on the field during warm – ups for good fortune.
  6. Holding a brief team meeting at exactly the same time before every match.

The Most Common Superstitions in Rugby

Rugby players are known for their quirky superstitions and pre-game rituals. From lucky undies to special meals, touching ancestral signs, wearing specific clothing items, and following routines, there are a variety of common superstitions that players adhere to before a match.

Lucky undies

Lucky undies play a significant role in the superstitions of rugby players. Some athletes, like Dan Biggar, have lucky underpants that they wear for every match. This ritual is believed to bring good luck and create a sense of consistency before stepping onto the field.

The attachment to these lucky garments showcases the deep-rooted belief in pre-game superstitions among rugby players.

Grant Fox has also been known to attribute his success on the field to wearing specific underwear during matches. These rituals may seem unusual, but they provide comfort and reassurance for players as they prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for the game ahead.

Special meals

Moving from rugby players’ lucky undies to their pre-match rituals, it’s interesting to note that special meals play a significant role in their superstitions. Some players have specific meals they eat before every game, believing it brings them luck and energy on the pitch.

These special meals are carefully chosen and often personalised to each player’s preferences. Whether it’s a particular dish or the timing of the meal, these superstitions around food add another layer of intrigue to matchday preparations.

Rugby traditions | Game day routines | Prematch rituals | Rugby match customs

Touching or slapping a sign for ancestors

Rugby players have a range of pre-game rituals, some with cultural and ancestral significance. Among these is the act of touching or slapping a sign for ancestors before taking to the field.

This belief in seeking protection or invoking blessings from departed relatives is prevalent among rugby players, reflecting the deep-rooted traditions and customs that shape their matchday routines.

Such gestures speak to the strong connections rugby players feel towards their heritage and ancestry, underscoring the rich tapestry of superstitions and rituals woven into the sport’s fabric.

Wearing specific items of clothing

Rugby players have a range of specific clothing-related superstitions. For example, Jonny Wilkinson has the habit of wearing the same training gear for every match. John Smit is known to have his own ritual involving his clothing by wearing the same pair of pants before each game.

These rituals and superstitions extend beyond just players, as research has shown that fans too often follow their own pre-match clothing traditions when it comes to supporting their team during tournaments.

Following specific routines

Rugby players follow specific routines before a match, such as wearing the same gear or performing particular rituals. For instance, Jonny Wilkinson is known for his superstition of sporting the same training gear every game.

Other players may adopt religious practices, like Keith Earls and his pre-match religious routines. Some players even incorporate unusual elements into their routines – for example, placing a banana in their boot for good luck.

Research shows that rugby union players are particularly dedicated to their pre-game rituals and superstitions compared to athletes in other sports. Similarly, England’s rugby team has its own quirky pre-match customs, including lucky fajitas and listening to specific songs before hitting the field.

The Debate Around Superstitions in Rugby

Some see superstitions as a waste of time, while others swear by them for psychological benefits. The debate around the usefulness of pre-game rituals and superstitions in rugby continues to divide opinions among players, coaches, and fans.

Some see it as a waste of time, others swear by it

Beliefs and rituals play a crucial role in rugby, with players following age-old traditions and superstitions. From wearing lucky undies to adhering to specific meal plans, these routines are deeply ingrained in the sport.

Players like Keith Earls have religious rituals they adhere to, while Jonny Wilkinson swears by wearing the same training gear for every match. It’s not just the players; even the fans have their own set of superstitions when it comes to supporting their team during tournaments.

With three out of four Brits having unusual pre-match rituals, it’s no wonder that superstitions remain an integral part of rugby culture.

The psychological benefits and drawbacks

Rugby players’ pre-game rituals and superstitions can provide a sense of control and routine, boosting their confidence before a match. The consistency offered by these practices can help players mentally prepare for the game, providing them with a psychological edge.

However, overly superstitious behaviours may lead to anxiety when the ritual cannot be completed or if it does not yield the desired result. This could potentially affect a player’s performance on the field.

On the other hand, some argue that pre-game rituals and superstitions are simply distractions and add unnecessary pressure to an already high-stakes situation. While they may offer comfort to some players, others believe that concentrating on mental preparation without relying on external factors is more beneficial in achieving success on the field.


In conclusion, matchday rituals and superstitions play a significant role in the world of rugby. From religious routines to lucky charms, top players have their unique pre-game rituals that they follow without fail.

Whether it’s wearing specific clothing or consuming special meals, these traditions hold great importance for both players and fans alike. The debate around the psychological impact of superstitions continues, but one thing is certain – these rituals are a deeply ingrained part of rugby culture and tradition.


1. What are matchday rituals in rugby?

Matchday rituals in rugby are pregame routines that players perform to prepare for the game, which include a range of habits and customs unique to individuals or teams.

2. Why do rugby players have superstitions?

Rugby players often have superstitions because they believe these rituals bring good luck and help them feel confident and ready for the match.

3. Can you give examples of strange sports rituals in rugby?

Examples of strange sports rituals include wearing lucky socks, tapping the goalpost before playing, or repeating specific actions a certain number of times on a game day.

4. Do all rugby teams follow team superstitions?

Many rugby teams follow team superstitions, which can involve group activities or shared beliefs that they think contribute to their chances of winning matches.

5. Are there any traditional prematch routines in Rugby?

Traditional prematch routines in rugby can vary from singing team anthems to performing choreographed warm-ups; these traditions help unite teammates and set the tone as part of their gameday traditions.

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