Rugby is named after an English boarding school

MRugby is extremely popular, especially in Great Britain. But even in countries like France, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, there can be a lot of interest in ball games. In this article we will briefly consider the origin of the term ‘rugby’. Where exactly does it come from?

Statue of William Webb Ellis at Rugby School (Public Domain – Wiki)

The title of this post has already been revealed: Rugby is named after an English boarding school. In particular, it concerns the Rugby School in the city of Rugby (County Warwickshire). It is one of the most famous boarding schools in England, not only because of the ball game. The school was established in 1567. Initially only boys were welcome. Since 1975, the doors have also been open for girls.

In 1823, one William Webb Ellis, a student at the school, is said to have started a sport that we know today as rugby. Legend has it that while playing a completely different game, he suddenly started running with the ball in his arms. That they were not allowed in the game they actually played … The reliability of this story is doubted, but we give the name of the famous ball game to this history.


Web Ellis Cup (CC BY-SA 2.0 - Waveroom - Wiki)
Web Ellis Cup (CC BY-SA 2.0 – Waveroom – Wiki)

The development of rugby was probably quite gradual, but boarding schools such as those in rugby played a major role in it. Many boarding schools developed their own rugby-style variations on old folk games that were often quite violent. In England, but also in France, during the Middle Ages, there was sometimes competition in the markets, where men ran with the oval ball, while other men tried to stop it, if necessary with physical force.

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Official rugby rules were formulated for the first time in 1845. Nearly twenty years later, the Football Association was established in London. One of the goals of this association was to bring uniformity in the rules of rugby. Until that time, people used various rules in many places, making it difficult to organize mutual matches.

Web alice cup

Although Webb Ellis was not the real inventor of rugby, his name is still famous in the rugby world. For example, the Rugby World Cup trophy is named after him: the Web Ellis Cup.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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