Picture of Plaque Commemorating the Birth of Rugby at Rugby School in England

The History of Rugby

  • While the moment of its origin are debated, there is no doubt it started in 1823 at one of England’s top boarding schools[1] – Rugby School located in Warwickshire, England. Named after the school it was played, it started out as something very similar to a soccer. Players were allowed to kick the ball down the field, catch it and kick it from their hands. But, they were not allowed to run forward or pass the ball. Legend states one of its students – William Webb Ellis –decided to pick up the soccer ball and run with it.

    Initially, this new game was played by a set of unwritten gentleman’s rules (hence the saying A Gentleman’s Game Played by Hooligans since 1823). Written rules were first adopted in 1845.[2] The game quickly spread throughout England as the graduates of Rugby School attended universities throughout the country – most notably Oxford and Cambridge.[3] Soon, the game was spreading around the globe as these players traveled the world.

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     [1] Academic Life. https://www.rugbyschool.co.uk/academic/academic-life/. 2016. [2] Fascinating Facts. https://www.rugbyschool.co.uk/about/history/a-history-of-rugby-football/. 2016. [3] Johnson, Ben. A History of Rugby. http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/History-of-Rugby-Football/.