On this day :The 26th of January 1871


Rugby Football Union Formed

Some historical facts are almost too perfect. The RFU was formed on January 26 1871 at a meeting at the Pall Mall Restaurant in London’s Regent Street; in 1895 what became the Rugby League was founded at The George Hotel in Huddersfield, opposite the railway station.
The game had developed at Rugby School , though other such establishments played in a similar manner (the Webb Ellis story – picking up the ball and running – is however probably a myth). Clubs formed by former pupils of Rugby had sprung up, again some adapting the rules a little. It was to end this rule incompatibility that the Regent Street meeting was arranged.
Some 21 clubs were represented at the gathering, including Blackheath , Wellington College, Harlequins , Richmond and Guy’s Hospital. Legend has it that a delegate sent by Wasps went to the wrong venue where he only realised his error when too far gone in drink to be able to correct it.
A mutually acceptable set of laws of the game was agreed by June of the same year, though enough of a work in progress obviously existed for the first international to take place in Edinburgh in March, when Scotland beat England by a narrow margin (the referee’s decision in fact, as only conversions then counted and neither the Scots after two tries nor the English after one managed their kicks) – each side fielding 20 players in a game lasting 100 minutes.

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