The myth that William Webb Ellis, picked up a football and ran with it during a soccer match in 1823 has been spread so far and wide that it is considered as fact by most. But the real fact is that soccer and its current rules did not exist at that stage either, so the myth is fun but not factual.
The game Rugby has been around for hundreds of years but has been slowly evolving into the current game, as we know it.
The evolution of the game of Rugby Football was largely driven by the Rugby Schools, where Rugby Football was life for pupils. These ex pupils then formed amateur clubs, which had many different rules, causing matches to often be contentious and difficult.
The Start of the Rugby Union
The first set of written rules for rugby was published in 1845, and was done by the pupils at Rugby School., this was a the beginning of the current rules of the game, as prior to that the students of Rugby school had decided the rules, and changed them with the next crop of students.
The Football Association was formed in 1863, but the decisions made by the FA, to combine and define the rules for football, were not to the liking of clubs who employed the Cambridge rules (which included the main element of Rugby as we know it – running with the ball).
The formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871 in England, by 21 clubs and schools, led to the first laws of the game being drafted in June 1871.
The Growth and Influence of the Rugby Union
Rugby quickly spread across the world gaining popularity, and by the late 19th century was well established in countries like Germany and Australia, with many South Americans countries also participating.
Rugby unions in other countries quickly formed after England’s union, with the Scottish Union forming in 1873 and then the Irish Union in 1879. This formation of unions in countries across the world is still occurring, with United Arab Emirates being the last formed in 2010.
The International Rugby Football Board was created by Scotland Ireland and Wales in 1886 but England refused to join until 1890.
In 1895, 20 rugby clubs broke away from the rugby union to form the Northern Rugby Football Union, this break away from the union would allow for the players to be paid professionally for playing rugby and not working.
By 1995 the International Rugby Board had opened the Rugby Union, and all restrictions on payments for players were lifted.
The Future of the Rugby Union
Even now the rules of the game can be adapted, just in recent times at Stellenbosch University, alterations to the rules of the Rugby Union were tested on the Universities tams and have since been applied to some matches in Scotland and Australia.
These rules were implemented to simplify matches for all parties involved the referee, player and fan. Just as this sport grows in popularity with fans, it also attracts a bigger number of bettors and even sportsbooks are offering markets for Rugby Union matches to meet punter demand, for instance, take a quick look at this website.
With the current and on going popularity of the Rugby World, Rugby seems to be growing and the Rugby Union has shown that it is there to govern this wonderful game.