In 1823, William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, caught the ball and ran with it. 

With this “fine disregard for the rules”, Webb Ellis is credited with inventing the game of rugby football as distinct from its kicking counterparts. Since 1987, every four years, players compete for the Rugby World Cup trophy named in his honour.

While the validity of the Webb Ellis story has been questioned, it is irrefutable that the pupils of Rugby School shaped the game that we know and love. The first written ‘football rules’ were composed by three of its pupils in 1845 and printed in a small, pocket-sized book. This is where many of the words and phrases associated with the game, such as ‘try’, came to light.

The concept of awarding caps for appearances first originated at the school too, while England chose to play in white, like Rugby School pupils, in the first ever international against Scotland, at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh in 1871.

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3:08 | HOF 1 William Webb Ellis & Rugby School