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Historical Rugby Milestones 1830s

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy

1830s A short Historical Back drop of Victorian Britain

  • Slavery is abolished in the British Empire
  • Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist is published
  • London to Birmingham line opens starting the railway boom
  • George IV dies and is succeeded by William IV
  • Queen Victoria's coronation


William Webb Ellis receives his MA degree at Oxford.


Thomas Hughes author of "Tom Brown's School days" started at Rugby School.

More about Thomas Hughes


‘Running in’ (try scoring in modern terminology) becomes an accepted feature of the Rugby School game due to the prowess of pupil Jem Mackie.


In 1839 at Cambridge University, an old Rugbeian, Mr Arthur Pell (a Cambridge under graduate who later became a member of Parliament) got a rugby team together. The Old Rugbeians challenged the Old Etonians to a game of football and controversy at the Rugbeians' use of hands led to representatives of the major public schools meeting to draw up the 'Cambridge Rules'.

At Rugby School, the 1839 School House team was the first side to adopt a uniform.  All their players wore red velvet caps during a match that Princess Adelaide daughter of the duke of Saxe-Meiningen (wife of the future King William IV), is thought to have watched. Note William ascended to the throne in 1830.

These velvet caps, together with white trousers and jerseys, became accepted for players ‘following up’ although each wore his own favourite colours and carried a personal motto on his shirt (equivalent to today's Tee-shirt slogan).



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