Today, Rugby has become one of the most rapidly growing sports in the world. The World Rugby organization, which supports teams on an international level, charted a rise in the number of registered players of over 2.5 million athletes between 2012 and 2015 alone. The fascinating history of the game of Rugby deserves attention!
A Game With Ancient Roots?
Rugby likely began in a different form centuries ago. Some historians believe versions of the modern game originated in the ancient world. The early Greeks reportedly sometimes played competitive games using their feet to kick balls across a field. By the time of Cicero, Romans also played games using lightweight balls filled with air.
Official Rugby Begins
The first modern Rugby game played under formal written rules did not occur until the early Victorian Era. In 1845, players at a private English school in Rugby, Warwickshire adopted a set of rules for the sport. The guidelines likely encapsulated informal rules which had existed for many years. The game of Rugby soon gained wide popularity in the British Empire. By 1857, a formal match occurred in Scotland in Edinburgh.
Many official Rugby clubs formed during the 1860s. In 1871, players formed the world’s first Rugby Football Union in England; some 25 charter clubs began playing the game on a regular basis for the enjoyment of audiences. That same year, an international Rugby match occurred, with an English team vying against a Scottish team.
A Significant Division
Yet all did not proceed smoothly after the establishment of Rugby as a sport. The Rugby Football Union (the RFU) encountered controversies during the early 1890s. The RFU upset some clubs when it issued rules seeking to prevent its teams from charging admission fees. An event called “The Schism” occurred in 1895. Several teams left the Rugby Football Union to form a separate Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). By 1910, some 200 amateur RFU team had quit the RFU and joined the NRFU. The divisions among amateur clubs did not fully end until 2003. That year, the Rugby League European Federation formed to encourage participation in Rugby across Europe.
Rugby Spreads Internationally
Meanwhile, the popularity of Rugby increased. A professional New Zealand rugby team visited England in 1907. The Rugby Union established an international cup in 1930. During the 1900s, Rugby began attracting audiences in numerous nations. By 2011, some 14 countries fielded qualified teams to compete in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup!
An Exciting Game
Rugby appeals to a global audience today. The sport has gained international stature. Numerous amateur and professional athletes enjoy playing this sport!