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story of rugby that everyone knows is the supposed 1823 football match where
16 year-old student of Rugby School, William Webb Ellis, grabbed the ball in
his hands and took off running with it down-field. Instead of his classmates
becoming sore at him, they admired the move and copied it for themselves.
Eventually, this caught on to so many other schools that an entirely new game
had to be created.
Scholars on the subject tend to agree that the preceding story is too simple
to be true and most definitely fabricated. However, a few of the facts do hold
in that the sport, as it is known today, did originate at the Rugby School at
around that same period of time. Historically speaking, rugby seems to have
developed from ball sports of the ancient Greeks. Later, in Western Europe,
unruly “mob” sports would develop in many villages where the entire townsfolk
would get involved with throwing and running an inflated pig bladder and using
any means necessary, not including murder, to get the ball to the goal. The
result was massive human injuries and even more massive and widespread
property destruction that led to the sport being banned during the 12th and
In the early 1800s, a civilized version of this mob sport developed and became
popular in England, leading to the meeting of 11 schools and clubs at the
Freemason’s Tavern in London to discuss the rules of proper football. After
much debate, all but one club, Blackheath, agreed that running with the ball
was not allowed in football and the split into two distinct sports was made
official. It is worth noting, though, that a set of written rules for rugby
had previously been written in 1845 at Rugby School.
It was not until 1870 when Edwin Ash, secretary of the Richmond Rugby Club,
called for a meeting of all clubs to pound out a set of standardized and
official rules. After six full months, in June of 1871, the first official
rules were finalized by 22 attending clubs. These first rules were called the
59 laws. In that same year, the first international game between England and
Scotland would be played and by 1900, the sport gained fame and international
teams sprang up all over the world. It was even included in the Olympics of
1900 with a match between France and Germany, with France taking the gold.
| Rugby - probably the largest choice of Rugby in the UK!|