November - an anonymous surgeon writes to 'The
Times' complaining that Rugby football is dangerous.
The need is felt to form a body to regulate the
The first rugby game in New Zealand is played
between Nelson College and Nelson football club on
14 May 1870. The Nelson club won by 2 goals to nil
(they played 18-a-side).
January, The Rugby Football Union founded in the
Pall Mall Restaurant in Regent Street, London to
standardize the rules that also removed some of the
more violent aspects of the Rugby School game. The
practice of hacking and tripping is outlawed.
The first ever international game is played between
Scotland and England in Edinburgh on 27 March in
front of a crowd of 4000 (Scotland won by one goal
and one try to one goal, the teams were 20-a-side
and Halves were 50 minutes each). The try was
awarded after a 10 minute argument, leading to a
famous quote by Dr. HH Almond, the Scottish umpire:
"I must say, however, that when an umpire is in
doubt, I think he is justified in deciding against
the side which makes the most noise. They are
probably in the wrong."
The first French rugby club is formed in Le
Havre by British residents.
The first club in Germany is formed in Heidelberg.
William Webb Ellis dies a bachelor in Menton,
On May 14, Harvard University hosts Montrealís
McGill University at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in
the first recorded rugby game on American soil.
Rugby is first played in Cape town, South Africa.
Rugby is introduced to South Africa by British
troops garrisoned in Cape Town. Various clubs formed
but Hamilton RFC probably has the strongest claim at
being the first, disputed by Villagers RFC.
13 December - Oxford and Cambridge are the first to
reduce their teams from 20 to 15-a-side.
From 1875 many matches were played as 15-a-side but
the alignments varied a good deal. At that time
there were ten forwards, two attacking half-backs,
and three backs who were largely defensive. A major
change was to move up a defensive back to play with
the half-backs (this was the first three-quarter).
Players in international teams reduced from
twenty to fifteen.
The first fifteen-a-side international match
between Ireland and England is played on 5 February
at the Oval. England wins by 2 goals and 2 tries to
The Calcutta cup presented to the RFU.
Scotland's HH Johnson is the first to play as a
At Cardiff, Wales, they developed a short pass
to one of the half backs who would then go charging
ahead with the ball. He became known as the flying
half back which over time got shortened to the fly
The first recorded rugby match under floodlights
took place when Broughton played Swinton on 22
October 1878 at Broughton's Yew Street ground in
Manchester. Two lights were used suspended from 30
Lansdowne Road, Dublin, held its first international
rugby fixture, Ireland vs. England (15-a-side).
The first unions in New Zealand were formed in
Canterbury and Wellington.