As one of the most popular games in the world, rugby has a massive, international following that spans millions of diehard fans. It’s also home to global sporting events that involve some of the best athletes that the sporting world has ever seen, and it continues to gain popularity around the world.
Much like cricket, gold, and many other sports, modern rugby began its journey within Great Britain before being migrated to her many colonies, such as Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Here we will look at the history of rugby and how it’s become one of the world’s most enjoyed sports.
How Rugby Started
Various forms of football have been around for hundreds of years. The game saw most of its popularity grow in Britain since as early as the occupation by the Romans during the first century. A few centuries later, it became a tradition for small teams to begin playing football games amongst one another in communities, and these games continued to remain popular well into the 19th century. These smaller folk football games, which often included physical contact began to find more favour among the people that played them as well as the fans that watched.
This is where the game of football began to diverse slightly. Where one branch evolved into the game of football as we know it today, another retained the contact aspect of the game that would eventually turn into rugby, with a few other key differences. One of the most prominent being the way the ball is handled, with football keeping the ball almost constantly on the ground, whilst rugby players would instead hold the ball most of the game and pass it from one to another.
William Webb Ellis
While it hasn’t been officially confirmed by historians, many believe that the modern game of rugby was invented by William Webb Ellis, although his contributions would have only have come into being after centuries of the game’s natural evolution. It’s speculated that Webb Ellis was a pioneer of carrying the ball by hand, which was a major difference in how the ball was handled during gameplay.
He is also believed to have been closely tied with the formation of rules and regulations of the game, including fair play, as well as the codification of these rules. At the time he was involved, there was no fixed number of players per side, but it’s generally agreed that there were around 15 per side, with that number varying very little in subsequent centuries.
The game has changed little over the last 100 years, with the main additions being the many clubs and events that have been started up, many of which you can enjoy if you play your cards right. Rugby saw a massive boom in popularity throughout the globe leading up to the 21st century, and while it still remains a popular pastime, numbers have been in decline in countries like Australia as other pastimes take hold of the public’s attention.