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4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the ethos of Rugby football, 26 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Tom Brown's Schooldays and Tom Brown at Oxford (Paperback)
I'm sure many of us of a certain age will remember reading Thomas Hughes's story of young Tom Brown moving to Rugby school in the 1850's and discovering the early version of the 'Rugby' game. Legend has it that it was created some years earlier. There is a commemorative plaque on the Headmaster's Wall in the Close at Rugby School, known as the (William) Webb Ellis stone, describing the boy's sudden wild enthusiasm rather appropriately. Part of the inscription reads `... who with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time first took up the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game...'.
Of course Hughes went to Rugby school himself, and writes from experience. In the mayhem the boys realised how much fun they could have with the game that Webb Ellis had unexpectedly created. It was a thrill to run with the ball,(these were made by the school's local boot and shoe maker William Gilbert, whose name still appears on rugby balls today) to test one's strength against others' and to meet a more physical challenge.
Re-reading the book gives as much pleasure today, as he describes in Chapter VI `After the match'. `Then there's fuddling about in the public-house, and drinking bad spirits and punch, and such rot-gut stuff. That won't make drop-kicks or chargers of you, take my word for it.' 150 years later -as the French say, `plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'.
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