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Filmed in 1901, this is the oldest surviving footage of rugby

Ian Smith

In case you are a passionate sport’s fan, then you surely will appreciate what you are about to see.

This old film shows a Rugby League match betweenDewsbury and Manningham at Dewsbury’s Crown Flatt ground. . British Film Institute identified this film  as the oldest surviving footage of the game of rugby.

 

 

In addition here is some history of rugby

The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games, some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman game harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a Greek team game known as” (Episkyros) which is mentioned by a Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388–311 BC) and later referred to by the Christian theologianClement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215 AD). These games appear to have resembled rugby football.The Roman politician Cicero(106–42 BC) describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barber’s shop. Roman ball games already knew the air-filled ball, the follis. Episkyros is recognised as an early form of football by FIFA.

 

In 1871, English clubs met to form the Rugby Football Union (RFU). In 1892, after charges of professionalism (compensation of team members) were made against some clubs for paying players for missing work, the Northern Rugby Football Union, usually called the Northern Union (NU), was formed. The existing rugby union authorities responded by issuing sanctions against the clubs, players, and officials involved in the new organization. After the schism, the separate clubs were named “rugby league” and “rugby union.

 

In England, rugby union is widely regarded as an “establishment” sport, played mostly by members of the upper and middle classes. For example, many pupils at public schoolsand grammar schools play rugby union, although the game (which had a long history of being played at state schools until the 1980s) is becoming increasingly popular incomprehensive schools. Despite this stereotype, the game, particularly in the West Country is popular amongst all classes. In contrast, rugby league has traditionally been seen as a working class pursuit. Another exception to rugby union’s upper class stereotype is in Wales, where it has been traditionally associated with small village teams made up of coal miners and other industrial workers who played on their days off.In Ireland, rugby union is a unifying force across the national and sectarian divide, with the Ireland international team representing both political entities.

In Australia, support for both codes is concentrated in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The same perceived class barrier as exists between the two games in England also occurs in these states, fostered by rugby union’s prominence and support at private schools.

Exceptions to the above include New Zealand (although rugby league is still considered to be a lower class game by many or a game for ‘westies’ referring to lower class western suburbs of Auckland and more recently, southern Auckland where the game is also popular), Wales, France (except Paris), Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Scottish Borders, County Limerick (see Munster) and the Pacific Islands, where rugby union is popular in working class communities. Nevertheless, rugby league is perceived as the game of the working-class people in northern England and in the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland.

In the United Kingdom, rugby union fans sometimes used the term “rugger” as an alternative name for the sport, although this archaic expression has not had currency since the 1950s or earlier.New Zealanders refer to rugby union simply as either “rugby” or “union”, or even simply “football”, and to rugby league as “rugby league” or “league”. In the U.S., people who play rugby are sometimes called “ruggers”, a term little used elsewhere except facetiously.