The history of rugby is a long one. Some scholars believe it can be traced back to the ancient Romans but this history will
be brief. The most popular view on when rugby began is in 1823 when William Webb Ellis ran with the football in his arms
instead of using his feet to kick it. This coincides with the theory that somewhere in the decade between 1820 and 1830,
players who ran with the ball were accepted into the playing field. A player named Jem Mackie, who was a powerful player,
actually helped cement this way of playing into the game during 1838 and 1839. However it was not a legal way to play until
the 1841 to 1842 season of rugby.
Because the play of rugby was so dangerous, official rules were established on August 28, 1845. For fifteen years, these
rules governed how the game was played by everyone with one exception. In 1848, the Cambridge Rules were established, which
concerned the use of the players’ hands and the football. There was a ban on the acts of ‘hacking’, ‘tripping’, and using the
hands to hold the ball while running toward the opposite goal after the ball had been caught. This ban began in 1863. Today,
though, the rules resemble the Cambridge rules.
The original ball was made from a pig’s bladder, which had to be blown up before every game. The bladder was usually one that
was fresh from a pig, so the chore of blowing the ball up did not appeal to many players. The length of the ball now is meant
to be 11 to 11.25 inches. Its circumferences should be 30 to 31 inches in the biggest part and 25.5 to 26 inches in the
width. It should weigh 12 to 13 ounces and should be hand sewn, with no more than 8 stitches per inch of the ball.
If this is the sport you choose, be cautious about the way you protect yourself. There are no helmets in the regulation
uniforms, but a smart player would use one. Shin guards, knee pads, elbow guards, and a chest plate would also be wise to
use, as this sport can get very rough. Also, for the first game or so, watching how it is played would be a wise thing, as it
can change and turn without warning, causing harm to the players involved.
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