How a London Hospital Gave Birth to the First Rugby Club

The First Rugby Team

Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of fans and players across different countries and continents.

But do you know where and how it all started?

In this article, we will explore the origins of rugby and how a London hospital gave birth to the first rugby club in history.

What is Rugby?

Rugby is a team sport that involves running with an oval-shaped ball and passing it backwards to teammates, while trying to score points by touching it down on the opponent’s goal line or kicking it through goal posts.

There are two main types of rugby: rugby union and rugby league, which have different rules and numbers of players on each side.

Rugby is derived from football (soccer), which was played at various schools in England in the 19th century.

However, each school had its own version of football, with different rules and styles of play.

One of these schools was Rugby School in Warwickshire, where legend has it that a student named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a game in 1823, thus creating a new sport.

How Did Guy’s Hospital Create the First Rugby Club?

Guy’s Hospital is one of the oldest and largest hospitals in London, founded in 1721 by Thomas Guy, a philanthropist and bookseller.

It is also home to one of the oldest medical schools in England, where many students from Rugby School went to study medicine.

In 1843, some of these students decided to form a football club at Guy’s Hospital, using the rules they learned at Rugby School.

They called themselves Guy’s Hospital Football Club (GHFC), and they are considered to be the first rugby club in the world.

The GHFC played its first match against St Bartholomew’s Hospital on 26 February 1844 at Blackheath Common.

The match ended in a draw after two hours of play.

The GHFC soon became popular among other medical students and doctors, who joined or formed their own clubs based on rugby rules.

(3) Guy’s Hospital RFC on Twitter: “@O2sports @EnglandRugby Winning the the oldest rugby tournament in the world, the UH cup, for the first time in 10 years to top off our most successful season in recent memory.

Couldn’t have thought of a better way to celebrate our 175th anniversary! #WearTheRose” / Twitter

How Did Guy’s Hospital Influence Rugby?

The GHFC played an important role in shaping rugby as we know it today. For example:

  • The GHFC was one of the founding members of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 1871, which is still the governing body for rugby union in England.
  • The GHFC contributed many players to represent England in international matches against Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
  • The GHFC introduced several innovations to rugby, such as using rubber bladders inside leather balls instead of pigs’ bladders; wearing white shirts with blue stripes instead of plain white; adopting red roses as their emblem; and creating trophies for competitions.
  • The GHFC also helped spread rugby around the world by touring other countries such as France, Canada, South Africa and Australia.


Q: When was rugby invented?

A: There is no definitive date for when rugby was invented, but some historians trace its origins back to 1823 when William Webb Ellis allegedly ran with the ball during a football game at Rugby School.

Q: What are some differences between rugby union and rugby league?

A: Some differences between rugby union and rugby league are:

  • Rugby union has 15 players on each side; rugby league has 13.
  • Rugby union allows unlimited tackles; rugby league allows six tackles before possession changes.
  • Rugby union has line-outs (throw-ins) when the ball goes out of play; rugby league has scrums (set-pieces) instead.
  • Rugby union awards three points for penalty kicks or drop goals; rugby league awards two points for both.

Q: What are some famous players from Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club?

A: Some famous players from Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club are:

  • Lennard Stokes: He was one of England’s first captains and scored their first try against Scotland in 1871.
  • Arthur Budd: He was England’s captain for four consecutive seasons from 1874 to 1877.
  • Alfred St George Hamersley: He was an influential player who helped establish clubs in New Zealand and Canada.
  • John Raphael: He captained both England and British Lions teams before World War I.

Q: Where can I learn more about Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club?

A: You can visit their website or follow them on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. You can also read their book “Guy’s Football Club 1843-1993″ by David Frost and Peter Yarranton.

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