The History of Rugby

history-of-rugbyAlthough rugby isn’t as internationally popular as International football and American football, it still has its own dedicated following across many parts of the world as well as shows its history in some of the earliest games played by civilization. In fact rugby, American football, and international football all have a common ancestor. The ancient Greeks had a game called Episkyros andRoman civilization had a game called harpastum that had a mix of tackling, kicking, and running.This type of sport continued to progress across Europe throughout the centuries until the 19th century where many important changes happened.

Little Known Rugby Facts



  • 1845 The first official rugby rules are established at the rugby school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England
  • 1863 The Football Association is formed that officially separated the civilized football and the more violent and physical rugby
  • 1871 Rugby Football Union is founded separating Rugby League from Rugby Union
  • 1898 Professional Rugby is officially established
  • 1900 Rugby is hosted at the Summer Olympics and continues until 1924
  • 1954 First Rugby League World Cup where Great Britain beat France
  • 1987 First Rugby Union World Cup where New Zealand beat France
  • 2016 Rugby Sevens is introduced at the Olympics where Fiji beat Great Britain

Rugby of Today

Many countries today participate in both forms of rugby, however here are just some of the countries that have a huge rugby following…


  • Australia- Played all across Australia, especially in Queensland and New South Wales, and considered one of the national sports. They have a union team called the Wallabies that have competed in all 8 Rugby Union World Cups and have won two in 1991 and 1999. They have a league team called the Kangaroos with 11 League World Cup wins, the most of any country. Not to mention that almost all world cups are hosted or co-hosted with Australia.
  • New Zealand- New Zealand is the other big dog of rugby. They are often the co-host to Australia for the world cups. Their union team called the all blacks have won the most union rugby world cups with 3 and they won the League World Cup in 2008. Rugby union is even the official sport of the country and is obviously popular across the whole country.
  • France- France is the most populous country with a dedicated rugby following. Sadly, they have no league or union cup championships. But, south France considers league rugby to be the nations sport rather than football.
  • South Africa- South Africa’s love for rugby and football came directly from Great Britain when South Africa was a British colony. South Africa’s union team, the Springbok’s, hosted and won the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup. This was considered as one of the greatest sporting victories in the post apartheid country, helping to bring unity. They won the union cup again in 2007. Rugby League isn’t popular.
  • England & Great Britain- The country that founded the sport has one of the biggest followings of rugby that is played everywhere by everyone. They have only won one union world cup in 2003, but have won 3 League World Cups

One thing is for sure, youmay never know how much yu enjoy either playing or watching rugby until you give the sport a try.  With sister sports like football taking most of the recognition it is easy to see how this great sport could go seemingly un-noticed. Once you get a taste of the sport of rugby we are pretty sure you will be a huge fan!