Rugby League

Short History

     The origin of rugby football is reputed to be an incident during a game of English school football at Rugby School in 1823, when William Webb Ellis is said to have picked up the ball and run with it. Although the evidence for the story is doubtful, it was immortalised at the school with a plaque unveiled in 1895 and the Rugby World Cup trophy is named after Webb Ellis. Rugby football stems from the form of the game played at Rugby School, which former pupils then introduced to their university. Forms of traditional football similar to rugby have been played throughout Europe and beyond. Many of these involved handling of the ball, and scrummaging formations. For example, Australia had marn grook, Japan kemari, Georgia lelo burti, Central Italy Calcio Fiorentino...
     A significant event in the early development of rugby football was the production of the first written laws of the game at Rugby School in 1845, which was followed by the Cambridge Rules drawn up in 1848. Other important events include the sixth meeting of the Football Association, in 1863, and the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the FA, explaining that the rules that the FA intended to adopt would destroy the game and all interest in it. Other rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA. In 1871, a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London and as a result of this meeting, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was founded. Three lawyers, who were Rugby School alumni (Rutter, Holmes and L.J. Maton), drew up the first laws of the game.
     In 1895, a schism in Rugby football resulted in the formation of the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). Although many factors played a part in the split, the main division was caused by the RFU decision to enforce the amateur principle of the sport. In 1898 professionalism was introduced, and the first international match took place in 1904 between England and an Other nationalities team, mostly made up of Welsh players. In 1906, the NRFU changed its rules, reducing teams from 15 to 13, etc. The Imperial Rugby League Board was formed in 1927. It was changed in 1948 with the International Rugby League Board (IRLB) and the first Rugby League World Cup was held in 1954. The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) was formed in 1998.

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