Rugby: how it all began

Rugby is one of the most popular sports today. Not only in the United Kingdom, the country that founded the game, but also in a wide variety of places around the world, such as Japan, South Africa, Georgia, Argentina, Australia, the USA, and Portugal.

The origins of this sport are linked with other forms of football that have coexisted for centuries. But let's find out how the history of rugby began!


Where does rugby come from?

The origins of rugby are believed to date back to 1823, at the Rugby School in Warwickshire, England. During a game of football, William Webb Ellis decided to pick up the ball and began to run with it, creating the distinct handling game of rugby football. Although it is a story that lacks firm evidence, it has become a myth and there is even a statue erected in his honour in Warwickshire.


Rugby ball shape

For the development of the sport, the creation of a specific ball was fundamental. A local shoemaker called William Gilbert made the first models of the ball that we now associate with rugby. The first balls were much larger and rounder and the inside was made of pig's bladder which was then covered in leather. Gilbert established his company in 1823 and despite claiming to be the designer of the oval shape of the ball, he failed to patent the idea. Gilbert has been the official supplier of all rugby world championships since 1995. 


Rules and Game

The game’s first rules were created in 1845 by the football captain Isaac Gregory Smith. The rules were illustrated and distributed to schools. This produced the first-ever images of the game of rugby football.

Despite this, the game took a few years to develop. Originally there were no positions and no limited number of players. But in 1847, a number was fixed: 17 forwards and three fullbacks. Later, this developed into teams of 8 forwards, 2 half-backs and 4 three-quarters, and a full-back.  

In 1871, the RFU, rugby's first governing body, was formed by representatives of 21 local rugby clubs. In the same year, took place the first international match between England and Scotland. International tours were very important for the development of the sport worldwide and, as a result, in 1882, the first Australia - New Zealand match was held.


Rugby World Cup

It took a century from these first international matches for the first World Cup to be held. The first Rugby World Cup took place in 1987 and with a curious twist: the name given to the winner's trophy was the Webb Ellis Cup, in honour of the game's founder. 


Are you ready to Move?

Move Sports has a great relationship with rugby, and it's not just because we love the sport! We're proud to organize the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival, which is the largest rugby youth tournament in Europe. It's an amazing event that brings together teams from all over the world, giving young rugby players the chance to showcase their skills and compete against their peers. We're passionate about creating opportunities for young athletes to grow and develop, and the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is one of the ways we do that. It's a must-see event for any rugby fan!

Get to know all that Move Sports can do. We organise sporting experiences and events around sports such as rugby, football, field hockey, swimming, basketball, and athletics, among others.

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