Rugby’s rules in 1823 were quite simple. A touch line was clearly indicated on the ground but running towards the goal with ball in hand was not allowed. However, a 16-year old boy named Ellis continued running when he caught the ball instead of putting it on the ground as was usual. He ignored the rule. This is said to be the origin of rugby.

William Webb Ellis,
the inventor of rugby football

In November of 1823 at Rugby School, an independent school in England, a boy named William Webb Ellis, gripped by a great rush of enthusiasm while playing football, began to run toward the opposing team's goal but holding the ball in his arms, ignoring the basic 'no-hands' rule of football. Ellis was said to be the first person to perform such an absurd move, but it led to the subsequent establishment of rugby football.

This stone plaque commemorating the exploit of William Webb Ellis is still embedded in the redbrick wall by the front gate of Rugby School.

Rugby school,
the birthplace of rugby football

Rugby School is located in Warwickshire, 100 miles northwest of London.
This prestigious elite school was founded in 1567, has a long history and tradition, and has produced many star players.

The History of Rugby

1823 - 1898


Rugby football was created by William Webb Ellis who picked up the ball and ran with it in his arms during a football game at Rugby School in England.


The rules of rugby football were established at Rugby School


A rugby ball made by Richard Lindon and William Gilbert, shoemakers in Rugby town, was exhibited at the Great Exhibition held in London.


Rugby football became popular in New Zealand. Richard Lindon invented a rubber tube and pump by means of which the shape of the ball became close to present one.


William Webb Ellis died.


Edward B. Clarke was born in Yokohama, Japan.


The first fifteen-a-side rugby match was held between England and Ireland.


The rule that a tackled player must release the ball immediately was established.


The Welsh Rugby Union was founded.
The size of a rugby field was standardized at 110 x 75 yards.


4 person TB was adopted by a club in Wales. The Prince of Wales assumed the position of President of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in England.


The score system was established.
The weight of a rugby ball was limited to between 13 and 14.5 ounces.