Rugby -- the home of one of the world's most popular football games -- saw a convincing win on Saturday (8 December) by the visiting Australian Schools team.
Rugby -- the home of one of the world's most popular football games -- saw a convincing win on Saturday (8 December) by the visiting Australian Schools team. The Rugby team went down with a score of 35-3.
The teams met on the playing field of Rugby school where, in 1896, the Rugby team played its first competition match. Things were different then -- the teams were 20 strong, compared with today's teams of 15 -- and the game was in its infancy. There were no set rules, and each team played to its own regulations.
A piece of non-conformist play in 1823 marked the beginning of anew style of play. William Webb Ellis raised eyebrows and violated traditional rules of football by carrying the ball on the Rugby School field. Until then, there was common agreement that the ball must never be carried.
Ellis' action led to the development of the basic feature dividing modern players into two parties -- those who play with their feet alone, and those who play with both their hands and feet. At first Ellis' behaviour was condemned even at Rugby, but the school soon decided to permit running with the ball by players who received it by fair catch. Finally all restrictions on running with the ball were lifted.
Ellis was transformed from a lawbreaker to a school hero. There's a plaque to his memory at the school. It reads -- "This stone commemorates the exploit of William Webb Ellis who with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time first took the ball in his arms and ran wish it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the Rugby game."
It was at Rugby too, that the players seem to have been posted in something like the modern Rugby field positions. Sir Thomas Hughes, who's status adorns the grounds of the school, included a detailed account of a Rugby match in "Tom Brown's School Days."
The game quickly spread throughout the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth. It became the basis of the game played today in colleges throughout the United States. Strict rules were laid down for the game in 1871. Representatives of schools and clubs met in London, formed the Rugby Football Union, appointed officers and instructed a committee to draw up new laws on the basis of the code used at Rugby School.
The Australian team, led by G. Noon, took possession of the ball early in the game. Watched by a small but vociferous crowd, the visitors went from strength to strength following a quick try by P. Mcdonnell.