Nathaniel von Rothschild (1836-1905) is credited with having introduced football into Austria. One of the gardeners' sons at Hohe Warte, returning from England where he had learnt the game, gained his support for a team as a means of providing recreation for the estate staff - many of them English. With land and finance from Nathaniel, a club was formed in 1894 in the guest-house 'Zur schonen Aussicht' which still stands today. Several times winners of the Austrian Championship, the First Vienna Football Club still plays in Rothschild blue and gold.
At tennis, Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961) was a Cambridge Blue. Before her marriage to Charles, Rozsika (née Werteheimstein) (1870-1940) had been ladies' champion in Hungary and is credited with having introduced the overhand service into the ladies' game. Later in her life, Jacqueline Piatigorsky (née Rothschild) (1911-2012) won the ladies' doubles of the U.S. Senior Championships.
Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990) was an impressive cricketer, earning a place in the Northamptonshire County team at the age of 18 and scoring a very respectable 37 against Voce and Larwood.
Many Rothschilds have played golf, but James Armand de Rothschild (1878-1957) was amongst the keenest. Golf cost him the sight of one eye, the result of an accident on the course at Deauville. In 1961, through the trust Yad Hanadiv, set up in his memory, Israel's first course was opened near the Roman port of Caesarea. Guy de Rothschild (1909-2007) learnt to play golf on the course at Ferrières, designed by Simpson, the most celebrated designer of his day. He went on to play for France, reaching the semi-finals of the French amateur championship in 1949. The previous year he won the prestigious Grand Prix du Sud-Ouest.
The love of horses and speed have been recurring themes in the life of the Rothschild family. In polo, they come together and a fondness for the game has persisted. Louis von Rothschild (1882-1955) was on his way to a match in Italy in March 1938 when his passport was confiscated by the Nazis at Vienna airport, a prelude to his arrest and imprisonment. In France, Robert de Rothschild (1880-1946), and later his son, Elie (1917-2007), had their own team on the family estate at Laversine and in England, Evelyn de Rothschild (b.1931) led his team, 'The Centaurs', to many victories in the 1950s and 1960s, including, on at least one occasion, the Queen's Cup.
It was hunting which, according to family tradition, first brought the Rothschilds to Buckinghamshire. Certainly, there is no doubt that the pleasures of the hunt were enjoyed by all of Nathan Mayer's four sons. At Cambridge, escape for a day with the Puckeridge Hunt was not uncommon. In 1839, Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879) set up kennels at Tring Park and later moved them to Mentmore, the newly acquired property of his brother Mayer (1818-1874). In 1842, Mayer became Master of the Staghounds which hunted regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The enthusiasm passed on to the next generation, Leopold (1845-1917) at Ascott and Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), in particular enjoying the hunt. Shooting at Tring Park was also important, with distinguished visitors, including the Prince of Wales, taking part.
The French cousins were equally enthusiastic. At Ferrières, the shooting was good, but when Napoleon III visited in 1862, James took no chances and shipped in quantities of game to ensure the success of the day. The party were welcomed back to the chateau to a chorus singing Rossini's specially composed Chorus of Democratic Huntsmen. It was on a pheasant drive at Ferrières that Alphonse (1827-1905) lost an eye in a shooting accident; in gentlemanly fashion, he refused throughout his life to name the guilty party. Meanwhile, his wife, Leonora's passion for English sports led to the formation of a pack of staghounds on the estate. In 1961, Monique de Rothschild (b.1925) formed a 40-strong pack of staghounds, the 'Futaie des amis' to hunt in the Forest of Compiegne. Not only did she become the only female master of the hunt in France but was honoured as a Lieutenant de Louveterie, a title dating back to the time of Charlemagne.
In 1880s Vienna, chess was a popular pastime. A newspaper of the time credits much of this popularity to the President of the City's Chess Club between 1872-1883, Albert von Rothschild (1844-1911) 'one of the strongest players in Vienna' with whom even experienced Masters feared crossing swords. Albert helped to finance the Vienna tournaments of 1873, 1882, 1898, 1903) and 1908. In 1917, aged six, and recovering from peritonitis at Ferrières, Jacqueline de Rothschild (1911-2012) was taught chess by her nurse. It was to become a passion. "I loved the game, the pieces, how they moved, the challenge to find a solution to the infinite combinations. I had actually fallen in love." She taught her 4-year old sister, Bethsabee, to play. "We didn't know that chess could become a study, but we found combinations... We just played together - literally millions of games". Later in life, Jacqueline went on to play successfully at tournament level and in 1963 staged the first Piatigorsky Cup, an international grand master event, in which figures of the stature of Fischer, Kasparov and Korchnoi have played.