Did he or didn't he?
William Webb Ellis, that is. Invent rugby.
NO he did not.
is little evidence to support the popular belief that William
Webb Ellis created a new form of football. The point is that the
rules of the game as it was played at the school at that time
were made by the boys themselves and those rules were constantly
revised. If you look at the notes of the Bigside Levees - notes
made by the boys themselves - you will see that the rules were
discussed almost every time the boys went out to play and that
adjustments were frequently made."
Malcolm Lee, master in charge of Rugby football in 1978, talking to John Reason and Carwyn James in The World of Rugby.
are so many conflicting reports of how the game of rugby came
into being that the only thing that is for certain is that Rugby
School's William Webb Ellis did not spontaneously invent the game
when he picked up the ball and ran with it, 'Showing a fine
disregard for the rules of football as played in his time', the
time in question being 1823. Not only did a schoolboy
contemporary of Webb Ellis refute the notion a few years later,
but there is also the fact that rugby was by no means the first
code to involve running and handling. In fact, before Webb Ellis
did his party trick in 1823, all codes of football involved
running and handling."
The ultimate Encyclopedia of Rugby, edited by Richard Bath
I have written a brief explanation of the historical facts, but if you want the full gory details, here they are.
|Chapter 1||Introducing Matthew Bloxam|
|Chapter 2||What do we know about WWE?|
|Chapter 3||How the story arose|
|Chapter 4||The original game|
|Chapter 5||"The distinctive feature"?|
|Chapter 6||The original investigation|
Page updated 01 December 2006 by Peter Shortell