First Took the Ball in His Arms and Ran with It

William Webb Ellis

William Webb Ellis

THIS STONE
COMMEMORATES THE EXPLOIT OF
WILLIAM WEBB ELLIS
WHO WITH A FINE DISREGARD FOR THE RULES OF FOOTBALL
AS PLAYED IN HIS TIME
FIRST TOOK THE BALL IN HIS ARMS AND RAN WITH IT
THUS ORIGINATING THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURE OF
THE RUGBY GAME
A.D. 1823

First International

Scotland Vs England

The first International Match was Calcutta Cup match that was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, on 10 March 1879. Not only was it the first Rugby International, but is considered to be the first international football game of any type. The Calcutta cup, originated in India and  was presented to the RFU to be awarded for the winner of the annual England vs Scotland international.

The Calcutta football club had been started by former students of rugby school 4 years earlier. On Christmas Day 1872, a game of rugby football, between 20 players representing England on one side and 20 representing Scotland on the other, was played in Calcutta. As the Calcutta football club had been wound up, the remaining rupees in the club's funds were melted down to be re-worked into the trophy.

The score for the first Calcutta Cup International?

Scotland  1 England 0

Webb Ellis Could Not Have Predicted Just How Popular Rugby would Become

Not Just a "Man's Game" But a Game for All

Rugby has come a long way since those early days. A few years after the first Rugby international, The International Rugby Football Board (IRFB), was founded in 1886 by Scotland, Wales and Ireland, with England joining in 1890.  Australia, New Zealand and South Africa became full members in 1949. France became a member in 1978 and a further eighty members joined from 1987 to 1999.

The body was renamed the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1998. IOn November 2014 it became World Rugby and governs the sport worldwide and also publishes the game's laws and rankings. There are currently 95 full members and eight associate member countries.

According to World Rugby figures, rugby union is played in over 100 countries spanning six continents by men and women of all ages. The Rugby World Cup is the ultimate competition of Rugby. The winners of the Webb Ellis Trophy can justifiably claim to be the World Champions for four years!

 

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