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The History of Rugby Union

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The invention of Rugby is believed to be that of William Webb Ellis. He is credited with being the first person to pick up the ball in a game of football and run with it. William Webb Ellis attended Rugby School in England from 1816 to 1825, where football had been played for many years. In 1845 the first set of rules for rugby football were written up by a group of Rugby School pupils. The Rugby World Cup trophy is now named ‘Web Ellis’ in honour of the boy who invented the game.

The first international rugby match was played between England and Scotland in Edinburgh on March 27, 1871. It was won by Scotland. Ten years later in 1886 the International Rugby Football Board was created between Scotland, Wales and Ireland. England refused to join the board as they believed they should have greater representation because they had more clubs. However, England finally joined in 1890 and agreed that the IRFB would oversee all games.

Over time, points awarded for tries and conversions have varied greatly. At first, no points were given for a try but if one was scored, then a chance was given to kick the ball over a set of posts. Since 1881, the number of points awarded for a try has risen from 1 to 5. The most recent change was in 1992 when a try was changed from 4 to 5 points.

The first Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand in 1987 and was won by the hosts. Since then it has also been won by South Africa, England and Australia (twice).

One of the most significant advances of the game came recently in 1995 when it was made professional. For the first time players could be paid to play. This has led to Rugby becoming much more physical and demanding on top players.

Rugby Football History

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