Rugby School Birthplace of the Game 1823 - 2023

Where Rugby all started

2023 marks the 200th anniversary of the game of rugby football; 200 years since William Webb Ellis took the ball in his arms and ran with it on The Close at Rugby School. Prior to this date the sport, known as football, was played much like Australian rules football is today. It was with a ‘fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time (William Webb Ellis) first took the ball in his arms and ran with it.’

Throughout 2023, Rugby School, along with the rugby world, will be celebrating this anniversary. We will be welcoming teams from a range of backgrounds and abilities to play on The Close, as well as hosting dinners, evenings and our annual Festival On The Close, which for 2023 will be named “With a Fine Disregard”, in honour of Webb Ellis.

Our year will be attended and watched by over 40,000 people from around the world.

The 200th anniversary of the game

We are delighted to have the following as our Patrons:

Maggie Alphonsi MBE
Sarah Hunter MBE
Martin Johnson CBE
Jason Leonard OBE
Nigel Owens MBE
Emily Scarratt MBE
Jonny Wilkinson CBE