More Information About Rugby...
A ball-game resembling rugby football was a game played by ancient Greeks called episkuros. In Wales such a sport is called cnapan or "criapan," and has medieval roots. The old Irish predecessor of rugby may be caid. The Cornish called it "hurling to goals" which dates back to the bronze age, the West country called it "hurling over country" (neither should to be confused with Gaelic hurling in which the ball is hit with a stick called a hurley or hurl, not carried), East Anglians "Campball", the French "La Soule" or "Chole" (a rough-and-tumble cross-country game). English villages were certainly playing games of 'fute ball' during the 1100s. English boarding schools would certainly have developed their own variants of this game as soon as they were established - the Eton Wall Game being one example.
The invention of 'Rugby' was therefore not the act of playing early forms of the game at Rugby School or elsewhere but rather the events which led up to its codification.
The game of football which was played at Rugby School between 1750 and 1859 permitted handling of the ball, but no-one was allowed to run with it in their hands towards the opposition's goal. There was no fixed limit to the number of players per side and sometimes there were hundreds taking part in a kind of enormous rolling maul. The innovation of running with the ball was introduced some time between 1859 and 1865. William Webb Ellis has been credited with breaking the local rules by running forwards with the ball in a game in 1823. Shortly after this the Victorian mind turned to establishing written rules for the sports which had earlier just involved local agreements, and boys from Rugby School produced the first written rules for their version of the sport in 1870.
Around this time the influence of Dr Thomas Arnold, Rugby's headmaster, was beginning to be felt around all the other boarding schools, and his emphasis on sport as part of a balanced education naturally encouraged the general adoption of the Rugby rules across the country, and, ultimately, the world.
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