How Old Is Rugby? Here’s What You Need To Know About This Sport!

men playing football


Exploring the Origins of Rugby

Rugby is a beloved sport around the world, with fans tuning in for international matches and local club games. But have you ever wondered where this game first came from? How old is rugby, really?

The Early Years

Rugby’s roots can be traced back to early 19th century England. It was first played at Rugby School in Warwickshire in 1823 when a student picked up an oval ball during a soccer match and ran with it towards the goal line. From then on, the two distinct sports were born – rugby union and rugby league – both of which still exist today.

But historians believe that the origins of football-like games can be found much farther back than that; some speculate that ancient forms of these sports may have been played as far back as Roman times. Whether or not this is true remains uncertain, but we know that by mid-19th century, various versions of football were being played across England under different rulesets. This period marked a crucial moment for modern day rugby development as teams began to organize themselves into clubs.

The Modern Game

By 1871, The Football Association (FA) had codified its own brand of rulebook: association football or soccer as we know it today – while other variations, such as Eton Fives, were also popular at this time. Meanwhile, Welshman Richard Mullock created another set called “rugby” rules – combining elements from various existing codes– which led to the formation of The Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 1871 too; thus cementing modern day rugby’s place within global sporting history forever more! Fast forward to 2020 and there are now over 100 million players worldwide – making it one of the most popular team sports globally!


Rugby has come a long way since its humble beginnings more than 200 years ago. What started out as an experimental game quickly grew into one of world’s most exciting contact sports, with millions taking part every year!