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News > Rugby School News > Rugby School celebrates the bicentenary of the creation of the game of Rugby

Rugby School celebrates the bicentenary of the creation of the game of Rugby

The game of rugby will be 200 years old next year, and Rugby School – the birthplace of the game in 1823 – has planned an exciting year of national and international matches and events to celebrate.
Leather Rugby Ball
Leather Rugby Ball

Sarah Hunter MBE, captain of the England women’s rugby team, and one of the patrons supporting Rugby School’s celebrations, was at the School today (15 June 2022) – on The Close where William Webb Ellis famously ‘took the ball in his arms and ran with it’ - to start the 200-day countdown until 2023.

Sarah said: “I am delighted to be at the birthplace of the game to start the 200 day countdown to the launch of 2023, it what will be another amazing year for the game, following on the back of the Women’s World Cup this autumn. This is a brilliant period to encourage youngsters into the sport, especially girls to get involved, most importantly for enjoyment, but to also inspire the rugby greats of the future.”

The programme of events revealed today on the 2023 Celebration’s website, include:

  •  a Legends England/Wales side, captained by Mike Tindall, playing against a Legends Scotland/Ireland team in November
  •  an International Schools U18s Sevens Tournament, including players from Japan, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada, as well as home nations, to be held in March.

Tournaments will be played on The Close where the game was invented, which is currently being newly turfed and refurbished in time for the high profile events.

Peter Green, Executive Head Master of the Rugby School Group, said: “Sport is an important element of Rugby School and we are proud this wonderful team game, created here by a defiant schoolboy, is so popular around the world. We will be celebrating not only with events, exhibitions, re-enactments and festivals, but also with dozens of games being played on The Close – for all ages, abilities and genders from U9s’ club tournaments to international matches.”

The School will also be repeating the Global Pass that took place in 2017 to mark its 450th birthday. Inspired by the Olympic torch’s global journey, a rugby ball, I was passed from country to country during nine months, taking in numerous locations and uniting thousands of people with connections to the School. The first of the 200 planned passes will take place at Rugby School in January 2023.

Other event highlights include the World’s Largest Rugby Scrum with 3,000 children; a Re-enactment of the Game; a packed Easter weekend of rugby games for all from U9s to Vets Rugby Club Sevens; and the Webb Ellis Cycle Pilgrimage: The Close to Twickenham and a dedicated 2023 Exhibition.

The 2023 calendar of events and booking information can be found at HERE

The inaugural patrons supporting Rugby School’s celebrations are Maggie Alphonsi MBE; Sarah Hunter MBE; Martin Johnson CBE; Jason Leonard OBE; Nigel Owens MBE; Emily Scarratt MBE; and Jonny Wilkinson CBE.

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