What country invented rugby?

Rugby is a very historical sport, played by many countries across the world. Rugby has a rich history, but many people don’t realise where the game originated. 

What country invented rugby? Rugby was invented in England. The exact invention of the game is often steeped in mystery as many people believe that William Webb Ellis picked up a football and ran with it at Rugby School, but this is not the case. 

Rugby Union is a very historic game and its history dates back to the 1800s. While many people believe rugby was invented when William Webb Ellis picked up a football during a game and ran with it while he was attending Rugby School, this has been put down as a rugby myth. 

However, the Rugby School was the one which made running with the ball in hands much more common and popularised the game in the 1830s. Rugby School is located in Warwickshire, England so it means that Rugby was invented in England. Modern Rugby is known to have been invented in England. 

But there were some early sports that people consider to be similar to modern rugby. These different forms were played in many different countries across the world and there is no doubt that some of these sports helped to influence the game of rugby, especially when the rules were being created. 

These games were usually known as football games and they were all slightly different variations of rugby that we see today. Countries that play rugby today like Wales, New Zealand and Japan all had very similar games that some people would consider as part of the inspiration for rugby. 

These early inspirations led to the game that we see today. It was in England where not only was rugby invented, but the beginnings of the establishment of modern rugby unions like the RFU were formed and England was the first country to pay players for missing work if they were playing rugby. 

Did New Zealand invent rugby? 

Rugby was not invented in New Zealand, despite the country being one of the most successful rugby nations of all time. Rugby was actually invented in England. New Zealand was formerly a colony of the British Empire. During this time, rugby was brought over to New Zealand by British travellers. 

They brought rugby to New Zealand in the 1840s and the country picked it up pretty quickly. One of the reasons why rugby succeeded in New Zealand is because it was pretty similar to Ki-o-rahi, a ball sport that has been played in New Zealand for hundreds of years, it is difficult to estimate exactly how long it has been played in New Zealand for. 

Ki-o-rahi incorporates some of the skills similar to rugby. It involves two teams of seven players who score points by touching the boundary markers or hitting the central target. The exact rules of the game tend to vary as it is not a professional sport. But as it incorporates a lot of what rugby does, you can see why rugby became popular in New Zealand even if it was not invented in the country. 

Was Rugby invented in Australia?

Rugby was not invented in Australia despite the Wallabies being one of the most successful rugby teams in the world and the sport being incredibly popular in the country. Rugby was actually invented in England in Rugby School which is located in Warwickshire. Australia was part of the British Empire when the game was invented. 

So it was British travellers that brought the game over to Australia and this was thought to be around the 1840s, in the decades after the game was invented in England. Australia took to rugby because they were already playing similar games, known as Marn Grook. Marn Grook is more of a generalised term. 

It covers all of the different types of football that Australian Aboriginals used to play before European settlers introduced them to rugby. These aboriginals used to play a lot of traditional games that included running with the ball in their hands as well as some games involving kicking. 

These games had very few real rules and often the winner would be decided when one team admitted that they believed the other team played better than them. These games had some similarities to rugby and it is why the game became so successful in Australia, even though they did not invent it there.

Why is Rugby so popular in New Zealand? 

There are a few different reasons why New Zealand are so good at rugby. It begins by looking at the history of the game in New Zealand. Student Charles Monro was the first one to introduce New Zealand to the sport all the way back in the 1850s. 

Locals were already playing games that were similar to rugby. The main one was known as Ki-o-rahi and it involved players running with the ball in their hands. The similarities meant that New Zealanders took to rugby quite quickly and they enjoyed that the game played to their strengths. 


Part of the New Zealanders playing Ki-o-rahi meant that they quickly became better at rugby than the European settlers because they were already developing the physical attributes to play rugby before the game had been introduced to them. This success meant that New Zealand enjoyed the game a lot more. 

This success has continued long into rugby since. New Zealand are still one of the best teams of all time in rugby, having won countless trophies and dominating teams across the globe. This incredible success means the country gets behind their players, even more, making the sport much more exciting. 


New Zealand has put a lot of investment into rugby. It is the national sport of the country and so people are introduced to rugby at a very early age. When these players are introduced to the sport this early, they are likely to continue following the sport even if they stop playing it in the future. 

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