Pierre de Coubertin was a passionate supporter of rugby and the founding father of the modern Olympic Games.
De Coubertin’s interest in rugby stemmed from visiting several English schools, including Rugby School, where he saw the benefits of organised sport at first hand and the philosophy of headmaster Thomas Arnold made a big impression on him.
On returning home, the French aristocrat established the first French Schools Championship in 1890 and continued to promote the game vigorously. He refereed the inaugural French Championship final in 1892 and France’s first international in 1906.
Having formed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, de Coubertin was responsible for rugby’s inclusion in the 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924 Games, the final year of his IOC presidency.
Following his retirement from the Olympic movement, rugby was dropped from the Games before being restored as an Olympic sport some 92 years later.
….despite its early problems, foot-ball has survived and flourished. Why should this be? It must be put down to the intrinsic value of the game itself and the emotions it generates amongst the participants.