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A Brief History Of Rugby Essay

1696 words - 7 pages

With each passing civilization and the era it’s [its] people lived in, one can find a great deal about the times by examining an area that is not often thought of. That area is in regards to sports. The ancient Mayans had arenas, the Greeks helped initiate the Olympics, and the Romans had bloody matches between gladiators in the Colosseum. These sports and games often reveal to us what was occurring outside the playing field and arenas, into the political arenas and clashes between the classes. Examining the history of rugby throughout Europe, particularly in Great Britain, allows one the opportunity to see how the changes throughout society’s values, norms, and principles are mirrored by the evolution of the game of rugby from the mid-nineteenth century up to World War I.
Variations of games similar to rugby can be found throughout history, even dating back to the twelfth century. There was even an attempt to ban these types of games. In some cases, like in England, King Edward II issued an edict that formally banned the games. This would only prove to be temporary. Until 1845, rules were often agreed upon before the contest began and could change slightly with each contest. It was not until the year 1845 that rules were officially established that distinguished the game from other forms at Rugby School by three young men. Rugby derives its name from this since three boys attending this institution first established rule defining the sport. William Webb-Ellis is also attributed to helping evolve the game to present day form. It is rumored that during a match in 1823, he picked up the ball and began to run with it. His alleged disregard for the rules helped in fact to define what would be a future rule of the sport.
During the nineteenth century, nations throughout Europe wanted to further expand their influence and borders. The rise of imperialism allowed nations like Britain to do this and spread their cultural values and norms across the globe. Sport was often used as an instrument to instill the British customs and culture into the areas that were colonized. “By playing team sports, participants were thought to learn teamwork, the value of obeying constituted authority, courage in the face of adversity, loyalty to fellow players, and respect for the rules. To . . . play the game meant being honest and upright, and accepting conformity” 7. With the instillation of rugby and other sports throughout the areas of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India, Britain was able to slowly but surely leave lasting impression o these cultures. The establishment of these sport leagues often attracted more members of the wealthy classes and excluded members of lower social classes, which began to create social rifts between the people of these countries. A perfect example is South Africa. The creation of the Union of South Africa rugby team had a purpose of uniting the two white sections of people. Those of color were not given...

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