YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Faf de Klerk of Sou
Faf de Klerk drinks from the Webb Ellis Cup as he celebrates victory following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
  • The acid in the various types of booze the Springboks have been drinking out of the Webb Ellis Cup is damaging it, a jewellery expert tells us. 
  • Long-term exposure to liquids such as champagne will lead to the gold plating starting to peel, though not in the short term.
  • If things get really wild, though, the trophy may have to be gilded again.
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The acids in the champagne and beer the Springbok rugby team keep drinking out of the Webb Ellis Cup in celebration are likely damaging it slowly, Cecil Kahn, owner of SA Wholesale Jewellers in Durban says. 

The national rugby team won the trophy on Saturday, after defeating England in the World Cup rugby finals match. Since then the team have been drinking all sorts of liquids from it in celebration. 

In the long term that kind of typical sporting celebration will cause the gold plating on a trophy to peel, Khan told Business Insider South Africa, eventually wearing it down to its sterling silver core.

But that doesn't mean this week's homecoming tour requires a no-drinking-from-the-trophy rule. The reaction involved is not a quick one, Khan said, "and it will take months if not years for the gold to start peeling."

In a worst-case scenario, the trophy can be covered in gold again before it has to be handed back.

Also read: Right now the Springbok team can charge up to R58,000 per social media post – but that won’t last long

If celebrations don't get too wild and protracted, a good wash every so often – ideally immediately after use – will do.

“Water, Sunlight liquid and a soft cloth would work best to clean it. And absolutely avoid bringing anything harsh like a brush to its surface” Khan said. 

He advised the Springboks to not put the trophy in a dishwasher, as the typical chemicals used are very abrasive to the soft gold plating. 

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Faf de Klerk of Sout
Faf de Klerk of South Africa and teammates at the changing room after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final match (Photo by Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Web Ellis Cup was originally made in 1906, but first presented in a Rugby World Cup in 1987 when it was won by New Zealand. 

Since then New Zealand has won it another two times, South Africa three times, Australia two times, and England once. 

It is officially cared for and restored by goldsmiths and silversmiths Thomas Lyte, which is also the United Kingdom’s monarchy’s official goldsmith.

SA Rugby recently insured the trophy to the value of £30,000 (roughly R570,000) for their upcoming Champions Tour around South Africa, Sport24 reported.

Shadrack Maziya, a sales agent at Prestige Awards in Johannesburg, said if the trophy’s plating was done correctly it will likely not see damage quickly. 

“But as with all material things, it experiences wear and tear over the years which will cause it to be restored.” 

Aside from washing it with water, and avoiding brushes, Maziya advises that the Springboks use furniture polish to maintain the trophy’s shine. 

“It is really crucial that the trophy is cared for and cleaned and polished frequently to ensure its longevity.”