Rugby football

Rugby football

Rugby football (usually just "rugby"), may refer to a number of sports through history descended from a common form of football developed at Rugby School in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Rugby league and rugby union are the only two sports referred to as "rugby" today, although Australian rules, American football and Canadian football are modern sports that have originated from rugby football.


In Wales such a sport is called cnapan or "criapan," and has medieval roots. The old Irish predecessor of rugby may be caid. The Cornish called it "hurling to goals" which dates back to the bronze age, the West country called it "hurling over country" (neither should to be confused with Gaelic hurling in which the ball is hit with a stick, not carried), East Anglians "Campball", the French "La Soule" or "Chole" (a rough-and-tumble cross-country game). English villages were certainly playing games of 'fute ball' during the 1100s. English boarding schools would certainly have developed their own variants of this game as soon as they were established - the Eton Wall Game being one example.

The invention of 'Rugby' was therefore not the act of playing early forms of the game at Rugby School or elsewhere but rather the events which led up to its codification.

The game of football as played at Rugby School between 1750 and 1823 permitted handling of the ball, but no-one was allowed to run with it in their hands towards the opposition's goal. There was no fixed limit to the number of players per side and sometimes there were hundreds taking part in a kind of enormous rolling maul. The innovation of running with the ball was introduced some time between 1820 and 1830, traditionally after William Webb Ellis broke the local rules by running forwards with the ball in a game in 1823. Shortly after this the Victorian mind turned to establishing written rules for the sports which had earlier just involved local agreements, and boys from Rugby School produced the first written rules for their version of the sport in 1845.

Around this time the influence of Dr Thomas Arnold, Rugby's greatest headmaster, was beginning to be felt around all the other boarding schools, and his emphasis on sport as part of a balanced education naturally encouraged the general adoption of the Rugby rules across the country, and, ultimately, the world.

The status of the rugby codes in various countries

Rugby union is both a professional and amateur game, and is dominated by eleven "major" unions: Ireland, France, Australia, England, New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa, Wales, Argentina, Italy, and Scotland. Rugby Union is administered by the International Rugby Board (IRB). Rugby union is the national sport in New Zealand, South Africa and Wales. "Minor" unions include Canada, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, Chile, The United States, and Uruguay.

Rugby League is also both a professional and amateur game, administered on a global level by the Rugby League International Federation. In addition to the countless amateur and semi-professional competitions in countries such as the United States, Russia, Lebanon and across Europe, there are two major professional competitions worldwide—the Australian National Rugby League and the European Super League. In the "National Rugby League" there are teams from all Australian states and territories except South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania, and there is also one in Auckland, New Zealand. In Super League there are two teams from outside the north of England, the London-based Harlequins and the Perpignan-based Catalans, although this will become three when the South Wales-based Celtic Crusaders join at the start of the 2009 season.


Distinctive features common to both rugby codes (league and union) include the prolate spheroid ball and the ban on passing the ball forward, so that players can gain ground only by running with the ball or by kicking it. As the sport of rugby league moved further away from its union counterpart, rule changes were implemented with the aim of making a faster-paced, more try-oriented game.

Today, the main differences between the two games, besides league having teams of 13 players and union of 15, involve the tackle and its aftermath:

*Union players contest possession following the tackle: depending on the situation, either a ruck or a maul occurs. League players may not contest possession after making a tackle: play is continued with a "play-the-ball" (AKA: "Scratch")

*In league, if the team in possession fails to score before a set of six tackles, it surrenders possession. Union has no six-tackle rule; a team can keep the ball for an unlimited number of tackles before scoring as long as it maintains possession and does not commit an offence.

Set pieces of the union code include the "scrum", where packs of opposing players push against each other for possession, and the "lineout", where parallel lines of players from each team, arranged perpendicular to the touch-line (the side line) attempt to catch the ball thrown from touch (the area behind the touch-line).

In the league code, the "scrum" still exists, but with greatly reduced importance. Set pieces are generally started from the play-the-ball situation. Many of the rugby league positions have similar names and requirements to rugby union positions but there are no flankers in rugby league. The result of these variations have led to rugby union being considered a traditional form of rugby.

ee also

*Medieval football
*Rugby sevens
*Tag Rugby


External links

* [ Richard Lindon inventor of the Rugby Ball]
* [ Comprehensive Rugby Union History]

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