The Great Debate: Which Came First, Rugby or Football?

Group of Men Playing Rugby

Which Came First? Rugby or Football?

Sports fans around the world have been debating for years about which sport came first: rugby or football. It’s a difficult question to answer definitively, as both sports are deeply entrenched in the history and culture of their respective countries. While they share some similarities, there is one key difference that sets them apart: rugby is played with an oval-shaped ball while football uses a round one.

The origins of each sport can be traced back hundreds of years, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when they first appeared on the scene. Some believe rugby originated from ancient Greek and Roman games, while others think it evolved from British public school games. Similarly, football has its roots in various medieval-era team sports such as “cuju” in China and “harpastum” in Rome.

Differences Between Rugby and Football

Rugby rules allow for more physical contact than those governing football; players may use their hands to pass the ball forward but not laterally or backward unless doing so from behind their own goal line (known as a drop kick). Additionally, tackling opponents is allowed, whereas this isn’t permitted in most forms of competitive football play; this makes rugby a much more physically demanding game than its counterpart. Furthermore, teams consist of 15 players compared to 11 for association football matches.

In contrast to rugby’s strict rules about handling the ball with your hands, passing and receiving it with any part of your body is allowed during regular play in association (or soccer) matches – including using your head or feet! This gives way to creative tactics within each game, making them even more exciting for spectators watching on TV or at stadiums worldwide.


In summary, determining which came first between these two beloved sports can be tricky due to their long histories intertwined with different cultures across time periods throughout history – but what remains true no matter which you prefer is that both offer unique thrills and excitement like no other! Whether you’re passionate about rugger union or soccer fanatics through and through – now you know just how far back these age-old athletic traditions actually go!