‘Rub of the green’
‘Rub of the green’ is a saying now heard across many sports, and it’s now commonplace in football circles, but where did the term originate?
The saying of course means ‘a bit of luck’, either getting it or not, and it’s origins are often thought to be in snooker commentary due to the green surface snooker’s played on. Other’s though cry that’s it’s due to the ‘green’ in golf… but then of course the turf in football is also green. It’s easy to see why the term has travelled across sports. It seems though that it was first used in reference to the game of bowls. A ‘rub’ being anything which impedes or hinders the bowl so causes it to divert. It’s similar to having a ‘let’ in tennis, whereby the ball hits the cusp of the net & luck might take it either way. …anyway, reference to a ‘rub’ in this way is noted as early as the 16th century when used by Shakespeare in Richard II. This is then later found combined with ‘green’ in a golfing context in the 1812 text ‘The Rules of Golf’ where it states “Whatever happens to a Ball by accident, must be reckoned a Rub of the green.” This understanding seems to have adjusted over time so that ‘rub’ is thought of as the luck of the altered direction, so a kind of ‘fate’ if you will, and the golfing reference to ‘green’ has come along for the ride.
So there you go, the footymology of the term ‘Rub of the green’.