A game that could only have been developed in a public school

The origins of Rugby are steeped in myth and fantasy. One thing is for certain it was a public school boy who, fused with the arrogance and confidence only that environment could bring, decided that it would be a “wizard” idea to stop playing the perfectly acceptable game of football and pick up the ball and run with it. This shows how the mentality of the place and how the young gentleman were given the space to do whatever they liked differs from that of a comprehensive state school. If you or I had taken it upon ourselves to stop through a half of football and pick it up and run with it we would have heard the shrill whistle followed by the bellow of an irate sports master questioning our very sanity. Not only that we would have been surrounded by equally annoyed team mates that would be confirming to us in no uncertain terms that a good kicking was very much in the offing once the game was over and we were back out in the schoolyard. Short of that someone would have at least said “hand ball!” as we had just displayed flagrant disregard for the rules.  Not so the pupils and teachers of Rugby School who seemed to say “I say, goodo! Webb Ellis has invented a fun game! I hope it involves us all being gathered to together in a group in the floor later!”

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The man, the Reverend William Webb Ellis (he’s a Reverend because he was a trained Vicar by the way not for the invention of Rugby even if he is revered for it) is responsible for the game of Rugby but the tale of him running with the ball is not totally true. It’s been a bit embellished to the romantic tale that we have. Webb Ellis to reason why we have Rugby Training drill Videos like the ones at https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/Lineout/Reaction-Lifts-rugcb0031.jsp is an interesting character and what he did after attending Rugby School is worth looking at as we do owe the man so much for the game.

His parents were not overly rich as his Dad was a Lieutenant of the Dragoon Guards.  After his Father was killed in action the family received a generous death in service award. They moved to Rugby as he was entitled to a free education under a quirk of the entrance system. He was known more as a decent cricketer and a good student. He went an Oxford College and played cricket for them against Cambridge but Rugby doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. He got a BA and MA from the University and then settled into an evangelical religious life never marrying.

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Most reports have either rubbished the legend or found that an expelled pupil actually came up with it and it was changed to Webb Ellis to avoid a scandal.

 

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