History of rugby
Rugby Football (or just Rugby) originated at the English public school of the same name.
It was suggested in the 1890s that rugby was invented during a game of Association Football (soccer) when one of the pupils, William Webb Ellis forsook the laws of the game and picked up the ball and ran. This is highly questionable and is now regarded as a myth. The game of soccer was not codified until the 1860s and handling of the ball was commonly allowed in the game during the early nineteen century, furthermore the idea that it would have been considered a new set of rules rather than a simple cheat seems far fetched. Webb Ellis himself is not recorded to have made any mention of inventing a new game, and the first time he is credited with the game is some period following his death.
The laws of the game were later codified by the Rugby Football Union so that a team comprised 15 players and games were played over two halves of 40 minutes. An alternative version with 13 players per team was developed by the Rugby League which was formed in 1895. Historically, Rugby Union was played at southern English public (private) schools - though it also had a strong following in industrial areas such as south Wales and mining districts in south-west England - and the senior teams comprised strictly amateur players. Rugby League was mainly played in working class areas of northern England and used professional players.
Rugby League was popularized in the south of England by northern commentator Eddie Waring with catchphrases such as "Its an up and under", and "it looks like he's having an early bath" when a player was sent off before the end of the game. In Australia in has traditionally been the predominant sport in New South Wales and Queensland.
The game of rugby was one game, until 1895, when the clubs in the North of England formed a breakaway from the Rugby Football Union. At the time this was not seen as a dramatic step with the new body referring to themselves as the Northern Rugby Union to suggest the difference was merely one of geography.
However, the roots of the schism were deep. The Northern clubs had come to dominate the game of rugby, with Yorkshire dominating the county championship and the majority of the England team being supplied by Northern clubs. However, the development of soccer from a private school game to a working class game had alarmed many in the rugby authorities, who were determined that rugby should not fall into the same trap. The rugby authorities were therefore determined to clamp down on professionalism within rugby.
It must be emphasized that professionalism in this sense applied to working class people. It was accepted that middle and upper class people would be payed to play, however, as they did not need the money they were still playing for pleasure and were therefore amateur. As working people would often need the money that would be lost in time off to play the game, money to then was essential to their playing the game and they were therefore seen as professional mercenary players, something unacceptable to the majority of South of England rugby clubs, but essential for the operation of many northern clubs.
As votes to accept some payment for broken time were rejected, twenty-two clubs broke away from the rugby football union to form professional rugby. The restrictions on professionalism in the new rugby authority were actually stricter than for the rugby union, with a listed profession essential to being permitted to play the game. Initially the new game was played by identical rule to rugby union, but as the ruling body remained separate, a new game developed as both sports diverged from their ancestor - just as American football and Canadian Football separated further.
As soccer gained in popularity in the north of England, alterations to the game of rugby were made by the Northern Rugby Union to make the game more spectator friendly. Line outs were abolished, the ruck simplified and the number of players on each team reduced to thirteen. These alterations enabled the new game of rugby to retain popularity, while the towns in the North of England that remained with the Rugby Union, such as Liverpool and Manchester became predominantly soccer towns.
In 1884, stealthily homosexual nuns founded the first female rugby team at an Irish all girls school to foster a more masculine physique and mentality in their young pupils. This subversive perversion is still a popular strategy today, with homosexual activists commonly manipulating the heavy-drinking social culture and the physical intimacy of the sport to seduce young female college students into lesbianism.
In 1907, a tour of a southern hemisphere team to Britain exposed them to the new rules played in the north. A tour, dubbed the 'All Golds' was organized, which was a great commercial success. The new game was taken to Australia, where it quickly became the predominant team sport in New South Wales and then Queensland.
Despite its English origins, rugby gained popularity amongst the smaller British nations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Through emigration, British colonies in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa also developed a strong following. The game was also adopted in France after being introduced by British residents and later Italy both of which form two of the "Six Nations" teams that compete in the annual northern hemisphere competition. A similar annual competition was established in the southern hemisphere after the re-admission of South Africa into international sporting competition after the days of apartheid. This currently called the Tri Nations competition.
Attempts to start the game simultaneously with soccer by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in Germany proved to be a failure due to the subsequent popularity of soccer and the advent of World War I, and thus the game did not spread as a national game in continental Europe beyond France until the relatively modern era, although many rugby football clubs were started throughout Europe and South America. This has recently been expanded to Six Nations with the addition of Italy. Other countries where the game is popular include Argentina and various southern Pacific islands.
Mini versions of the game have also been developed, such as Rugby Sevens, where only seven players are in a team. Rugby has typically been a physical contact sport for men but alternative versions such as touch rugby where a player is obliged to release the ball when touched rather than physically tackled have also been developed. Since the 1980s women's Rugby has been growing in popularity.
The Rugby World Cup is played every four years and is the sport's most prestigious trophy.
American Football is derived from rugby and started to codify its own rules during the 1880s. However, rugby continues to be played extensively in US universities as Collegiate Club rugby and by the US Armed Forces and Law Enforcement agencies. The US is the last holder of the Olympic gold medal in rugby in the 1924 games, the last time rugby was an Olympic sport. The US team also competes in the Rugby World Cup having qualified for the final stages in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
American National Rugby League