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The History of Rugby

Jan 11, 2013

American Football may be the most popular sport in the USA and Canada, but the rest of the world watches a different sport with tackling… RUGBY! American Football and rugby are very similar sports, but rugby goes much further back in history. Let’s check it out…

No Rules Rugby

The first stories of rugby go all the way back to the 10th Century when men used to play with no rules... and a real pig's bladder as the ball. That’s why the ball’s nickname is called a “PIGSKIN”. Apparently, the stories are really violent and disgusting, so let’s fast-forward a 1000 years.

Rugby in the StreetsHistory of RugbyCourtesy of

The first rules of rugby started in the 1800s. The game was being played in the roads of the cities and towns, but there were too many car accidents… oops, I mean horse carriage accidents .... that they moved the game into a open field.

Rugby with Rules

History of Rugby 1800sUniversity Rugby TeamCourtesy of

1871 was the year that rugby became a real sport with 22 university teams that played by 59 laws of the game. Anyone who didn’t like the physical contact were kicked out of the Rugby Football Union and they played soccer instead. By the end of the century, rugby was spreading faster to other countries. However soccer became more popular because it was less violent. That’s why soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Here are the rules of rugby:

  • Teams of 15 players compete in two, 40-minute halves. Play is virtually continuous. The referee stops the clock only for injuries.
  •  A team can score in four ways:
  • Try-5 points: A try is scored when the ball is carried across the goal line and grounded in full view of the referee.
  • Conversion-2 points: A conversion kick follows a try. The kicker attempts to kick the ball between the goalposts.
  • Penalty-3 points: When a penalty is called, the other team may elect to attempt a penalty kick from the spot of the foul.


Rugby Tournaments

In 1900, rugby was played at the Olympics, but only two countries came to play. France won the Gold Medal. In 1924, the Olympics had to stop the rugby tournament because there was not enough time to play a tournament giving players enough rest in between games.

Rugby is not of Soccer PlayersRugby MenCourtesy of bleacherreport

1987 the Rugby World Cup was born. Just like soccer, there would be a rugby tournament every four years to determine which country was the king of the sport. Here is the list of all the champions:

  • 1987 - New Zealand
  • 1991 - Australia
  • 1995 - South Africa
  • 1999 - Australia
  • 2003 - England
  • 2007 - South Africa
  • 2011 - New Zealand

1996 was the first year that allowed rugby players to be paid to play the sport as professionals. Today, 97 nations have rugby unions and more than 3.8 billion people watched the 2003 Rugby World Cup on television.

Have Your Say

What do you think about rugby? Let us know in the comments below....