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The History of Rugby ... Rugby over the years  


History of Rugby

The origins and history of a Rugby type game can be traced to as far back as the Roman Era. The Roman Empire had a popular game of the time called "Harpastum".

Harpastum was very much like rugby in that it involved two teams where the objective was to get a leather ball stuffed with cloth or feathers over their opponents' goal line.

Even then it is said that the Romans actually imported that game from China and Japan where it had already been played for many centuries, while other accounts have it that the game was derived from an ancient Greek pastime called "Episkyros". 

Various forms of early ball games of the game were played throughout Europe; the Irish called it "Caid", the Welsh "Criapan", the Cornish "Hurling to Goales", the East Anglians "Campball", the French had a version called "La Soule" and the Italians had "Calcio".

The one feature of the game, wherever it was played, was that it was incredibly physical and was described by a gentleman called Phillip Stubbs in 1583, as more of a friendly, violent and bloody fight than a sport!

These games are also sometimes referred to as shrove tide, mob, folk football. These games were played between neighboring towns and villages, there would be an unlimited number of players on opposing teams, who would fight, struggle and sometimes even use blunt instruments to gain advantage over their opponents, to get an inflated pig's bladder in any way possible to markers (goals) which were set at each end of a town or village. These games could go on for many days and cover great distances.

Authorities of the time would later attempt to ban such dangerous and unproductive pastimes, saying it took away from Archery.

The modern version of Rugby dates back to the mid 19th century England.

The private schools in England played football (soccer) but one school in Warwickshire, played a different form of soccer that allowed for ball handling.

This was the "Rugby School" (founded 1567) they had a student, William Web Ellis (the Rugby World Cup trophy is named after him) in 1823 and he, with a fine disregard for the rules of football, took the ball in his arms and ran with it, and by doing so created the most distinctive feature of rugby.

In about 1860 private schools in England formed an association and came up with the rules for its football (soccer) games, the other English schools that did not adopt these new rules at the time, their games evolved into Rugby.

In 1871 the English Rugby Union was formed.

The Rugby Union remained an amateur association and it wasn’t until 1995 that the International Rugby Union allowed for full professionals in the game and the development of professional Rugby Union leagues.

In 1987 the first ever Rugby World Cup was hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

In 1992 tries were increased from four to five points.