A lot of consider that rugby football was birthed in 1823 when William Webb Ellis “using fine heedlessness for the guidelines of football (note that soccer was yet to separate into the a variety of codes) as played in his time at Rugby school, primary carried the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus starting the unique feature of the Rugby game”.
Even though this is in fact apocryphal, since there is minimal in the way of affirmation to substantiate this view, it is nevertheless the popular viewpoint. So much so in fact that the world-wide representatives named the Rugby world cup the “William Webb Ellis Trophy”.
Rugby institution for example had formed Rugby football from football and played this sport according to rugby union rules. The inquiry as to the reason why the game of Rugby school became so popular in preference to the games of other institutions, such as Eton, Winchester or Harrow was possibly largely due to the credibility and reputation and excellence of Rugby school under Dr. Arnold, and this also led most probably to its adoption by various other schools; for in 1860 many schools in addition to Rugby played football according to Rugby rules.
Throughout the middle of the 19th century, Rugby Football, up till that period a standard game only between school boys, took its place as a routine sport among men. The prior students of Rugby institution (and other Rugby playing academic institutions such as Marlborough School) began to spread their variation of rugby (Rugby rules) far and wide.
The first significant event was a former student, Arthur Pell who founded a group at Cambridge University in 1839. The Old Rugbeians disputed the Old Etonians to a game of football and contention at the Rugbeians’ use of hands led to representatives of the notable public schools (Rugby, Eton college, Harrow, Marlborough, Westminster and Shrewsbury) meeting to draw up the ‘Cambridge Rules’ in 1848.
To start with, men who had enjoyed the game as schoolboys created clubs to enable all of them to continue enjoying their favored school game, and many other were stimulated to join with them; while in other instances, clubs were created by men who had not had the benefit of participating in the game at school, but who had the strength and the will to understand the example of individuals who had had this experience.
The introduction of rail lines during this period aided in the games capability to spread across the British isles. In 1863 a meeting was held in Cambridge where a ban was placed on “Hacking”, “Tripping” and Blackheath’s propensity, “running with the ball in the hands towards the opposite goal immediately after a fair catch”.
A separate conference was also held in the Freemasons’ Tavern, Great Queen Street, London with eleven academies and clubs supporting the kicking and handling codes present. They formed up common rules by which these individuals could play each other, nevertheless, after they had reached a compromise a number of the attendees recanted and ended up taking on the Cambridge rules (which precluded running with the ball).
Blackheath ultimately withdrew from the football association as it was at that point called. Henceforth there was a split between Association football (soccer) and Rugby Football (rugby).
And even those who advocated the Rugby code were not in complete agreement concerning the rules. Blackheath for example did not agree with “Hacking”. A letter which appeared in the press in 1866, revealed that Richmond also were wanting to remove this feature of the game. In the end both clubs rejected to play any team which supported “hacking”.
The result was that “hacking” faded away from club games even though it remained at Rugby School for a few years more. The Rugby Football Union was constituted in 1871 and instantly made “hacking” and “tripping” unlawful.