It seems unlikely that there could be a connection between crystallised ginger and rugby but without one we might never have had the other.
During the 16th century, imported ginger was a novelty for the wealthy and unknown to ordinary people. Lawrence Sherriffe was an enterprising London grocer who began importing ginger, and had sweetmeats made with it, as presents for Henry VIII's daughter, Princess Elizabeth.
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The princess enjoyed the new taste, and placed large orders of this novel sweet.
When King Henry died in 1558, Elizabeth 1 took the throne and continued to place lavish orders for sweetened ginger. She made gifts of it to courtiers she liked, and to visiting officials and ambassadors. Sometimes enough sweetened ginger was used to make life-size likenesses of those she favoured.
The queen's frequent custom made Sherriffe very wealthy. When he died in 1567 he left a considerable amount of money for establishing a boys' school in the small market town where he had grown up. That small town had been named in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Rocheberie.
But, by 1567, the name had become modified into Rugby.
For the next 300 years, there was very little awareness of that town, or the boys' school that Sherriffe had endowed. But in 1876 a mysterious – and totally false - legend arose.
Out of nowhere, a man called Matthew Bloxam wrote in 1876 that he had met an "anonymous informant" who told him of something which happened at Rugby School: when someone called William Webb Ellis was seen in 1824 "to pick up the ball and run with it".
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Four years after publishing this, Bloxam repeated the "legend" – still not naming his source - but now re-remembering the date, not as 1824 but as 1823. Unbelievably, Bloxam later went into print again and came up with yet a third date, 1825. The supposed incident - and any of the three differing dates - has never been validated.
Because of caution about the dodgy "journalist" Bloxham - his random dating, and his unnamed "informer" - the Old Boys society of Rugby School felt impelled to check on the veracity of this so-called incident.
It was true that Ellis had been a pupil at Rugby. But the Old Boys' Society's most diligent search could find not one single witness, not a solitary written word, not even a syllable of hearsay evidence to support the story.
By then, the Rugby Football Union had been formed in 1872. But no reliable evidence had ever been found from anybody who witnessed Webb Ellis "running with the ball".
Incredibly, nobody had ever contacted the man himself. Webb Ellis graduated from Oxford University having represented Brasenose College in cricket. He became a clergyman and, in spite of the publications and speculations about him caused by Bloxham, nobody ever asked Webb Ellis.
Ellis' so-called connection with rugby is now viewed as non-existent. The International Rugby Board words it carefully: "The validity of the Webb Ellis story has been questioned."
Rugby academic and historian Derek Robinson affirms there is no shred of evidence that the "running incident" ever happened. And the curator of the World Rugby Museum admitted "there is no evidence to support the story".
A somewhat blunt critic decreed: "The legend of the game's origin has more gaps than a disorganised rugby back line…" Over the years, however, a fiction, a myth, had taken root.
Webb Ellis died aged 66, in 1872, not knowing his name would go down in history associated with something for which there was absolutely no evidence.
Legends sometimes don't fade way. Since 1895 Rugby School has a plaque on its wall commemorating his "1885 clutch and run", and since 1997- a statue of Webb Ellis holding the ball while running.
The public often prefers the legend to the truth. Many will mention that the story of Salome is "from the Bible." It isn't - there is no mention of Salome or seven veils in the Bible, nor does the Bible mention three wise kings visiting Jesus, and Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote the words "Elementary, my dear Watson".
At least one thing about young Webb Ellis is known as fact - if ever we had heard him speak he would have sounded familiar to thousands of TV viewers. Ellis was born in Salford, Manchester - the exact area in which Coronation Street is based.
Whatever the vagueness in its origins, the game called rugby took a firm hold as an exciting competitive sport. And it owes a gentle nod to Elizabeth 1, whose liking for crystallised ginger helped her grocer accumulate enough money to found a boys' school. Whether it invented a game or didn't, it at least provided the name for huge and popular international activity.
It was fortunate that, at the time of the grocer's bequest in 1567, the town's name had changed. Any earlier and we might be celebrating a Rocheberie World Cup, which somehow doesn't sound quite right.
• Max Cryer is a former broadcaster, historian and author of Hear Our Voices We Entreat .