Rugby is a sport that is a variant of football. Originally created at the Rugby School in Warwickshire during the 1800’s, rugby was just one of several types of football that was played at public schools in England during the 19th century, however today it has grown into an extremely popular sport around the world. The two primary variants of rugby are Rugby Union and Rugby League, both of which have different rules. While originally Rugby League used the same rules as those used by Rugby Union, today they are entirely separate sports.

The Forms of Rugby

Rugby football split into two forms in 1895 – Rugby Union and Rugby League. Originally, the sports only differed in their administration, however within a short space of time, the rules that were used in Rugby League games were changed and the result was two completely different types of rugby. After a century, Rugby Union was recognized as a professional sport in 1995.

A Short History of the Sport

In ancient times, the Romans and Greeks played a number of ball games, some involving using the feet, and some of these are thought to be similar in style to rugby. However rugby as we know it today was not invented until 1830 when the pupils of Rugby School commonly ran with the ball during play. This style of playing gradually spread across the UK during the middle years of the century and the first official rugby match took place in Scotland in 1857. The first club known to be playing rugby outside the British Isles was the Montevideo Cricket Club which was founded in Uruguay in 1861. This shows the spread of the game across the world. The UK’s first rugby clubs were formed during the 1870’s and 80’s and the Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871 with the first recognised international rugby match being played in the same year between Scotland and England. Originally, there were 20 players on each team, but in 1877 the numbers were cut to 15 a side. The modern system of points scoring was officially adopted in 1890 but in 1895 there was a schism which led to the Northern Rugby Football Union being founded. This body then went on to change some of the rules, including reducing the value of goals to 2 points and abolishing the line-out rule. Professionalism was permitted within the organisation in 1898, although players were required to have proper jobs alongside the game. It was in 1906 that the number of players was reduced to 13 a side from 15. In 1922, the Northern Union underwent a name change to the Rugby Football League but it was not until 1969 that rugby league was recognised in British universities as a sport.

The Rules of Rugby

Although Rugby Union and Rugby League have some different rules, there are some that are common to both forms of the sport. Both types of rugby use an oval shaped ball and it is also forbidden in both forms of the game to pass the ball forward. This means that players can only move forward by kicking the ball or by running with it. Some of the differences between the games include having 13 players on a team for rugby league games, whereas a rugby union team has 15 players. Some of the other differences include the tackling process, with union players contesting possession after the tackle, resulting in a maul or a ruck. League players, on the other hand, cannot contest possession and play continues. In league games, a team must surrender possession if they do not score before a set of 6 tackles. There is no such rule in rugby union so the team has an unlimited number of tackles before they score so long as they commit no offence and retain possession. The union code also has set pieces such as the scrum and the line-out, however in league games, although the scrum does exist, its importance is greatly reduced with fewer players involved. Rugby league teams also have no flankers.

Information About the Rugby Ball

Originally, the rugby ball was known as a quanco. It has a diamond shape as this is believed to be easier to pass between players. The first rugby balls were made by Richard Lindon and Bernardo Solano for the Rugby School. They were produced from pigs’ bladders and had four panelled, hand stitched leather casings. The distinctive shape of a rugby ball is thought to be because of the shape of the pig’s bladder used in its manufacture, however originally, the earliest rugby balls had a shape that was more plumb-shaped than oval like the modern balls. Rugby balls in the early days of the game also came in various sizes depending upon the size of the pig’s bladder inside it. In rugby union games, the shape and size of the ball in play is regulated by World Rugby under Law 2. To be an official rugby union ball, it must be made from four panels and be oval in shape with a length in-line of 280-300 mm. Its end to end circumference must measure 740 to 770 mm and its width circumference must measure between 580 and 620 mm. Official rugby balls are made from either leather or some other suitable synthetic material and they are allowed to have been treated in order to make it simpler to grip and resistant to water. It cannot weigh less than 410 g or more than 460 g and must have an air pressure of between 65.71 and 68.75 kilopascals (or 9.5 to 10 psi). A spare ball is permitted as long as the teams or players do not try to gain an advantage by changing to the spare ball. In a game which involves younger players, a smaller ball is permitted to be used. While it is possible to buy large rugby balls, these are generally purchased for their novelty value and not for use during game play.