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Western Hampsire creates a history in rugby

Rugbyfootball game played with an oval ball by two teams of 15 players (in rugby union play) or 13 players (in rugby league play). Both rugby union and rugby league have their origins in the style of football played at Rugby School in England. According to the sport’s lore, in 1823 William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, defied the conventions of the day (that the ball may only be kicked forward) to pick up the ball and run with it in a game, thus creating the distinct handling game of rugby football. This “historical” basis of the game was well established by the early 1900s, about the same time that foundation myths were invented for baseball and Australian rules football. While it is known that Webb Ellis was a student at Rugby School at the time, there is no direct evidence of the actual event’s having taken place, though it was cited by the Old Rugbeian Society in an 1897 report on the origins of the game. Nevertheless, Rugby School, whose name has been given to the sport, was pivotal in the development of rugby football, and the first rules of the game that became rugby union football were established there in 1845.

Rugby is now a popular sport in many countries of the world, with clubs and national teams found in places as diverse as Japan, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Uruguay, and Spain. Rugby among women is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. At the turn of the 21st century, the International Rugby Board (IRB; founded in 1886 as the International Rugby Football Board), headquartered in Dublin, boasted more than 100 affiliated national unions, though at the top level the sport was still dominated by the traditional rugby powers of Australia, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales.

 

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