The modern day game of rugby evolved from a form of football played at a school called Rugby. There is a commemorative stone at this school about William Ellis, a 16 year old student, which says: “with a fine disregard for the rules of football…first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game.”
The first written rules for the game were drawn up in 1845. The sport has a long and storied history starting before there were restrictions on the number of people who could play at a time. At times the game turned into virtual riots in which there were frequently large numbers of injured players. There are now world championship games and the sport is regulated by an officiating agency. While much has changed about rugby over the years, the fans of the sport are just as passionate as ever.
It is a two team game which lasts for two forty minute halves and is made up of fifteen players on each team. The ball cannot be thrown to another player further up field. The ball moves down the field by a player running with it, or kicking it. There is no blocking allowed, like that in American football, which means that the only player who can be tackled is the one with the ball. Points are scored by getting the ball into the goal area, a conversion kick can yield two additional points and there are points which can be scored for penalties.
While there are some similarities to American football and even international soccer, the game of rugby is its own unique sport with players and fans who take it very seriously. There is not much gear required to play rugby. For an amateur game, all that is necessary is the rugby ball itself. Protective gear requirements are not nearly as rigid as American football. Almost every rugby player wears a mouth guard, but head protection is not obligatory and only some of the players wear thin shoulder pads or shin guards.
Rugby may well be the most popular sport in the world after soccer. Fans of the sport feel that it is one of the purest of all contact sports. Because of its fast pace and its rough, full contact game play, it is often cited as one of the most exciting sports for spectators. And while it may very well look like nothing more than a loosely organized riot to first time viewers, it is a highly choreographed game which is played by some of the world’s best athletes. Though it is most popular in English Commonwealth nations, the sport is growing in popularity all over the world.