To date, we have only tested Rugby Union against the Richards Rules. Due to the complex nature and previously unrecorded origin of this sport we had to create the rules to provide acceptable origin theories for this sport. please see below for the results.
THE ORIGIN OF RUGBY UNION
Rugby Union is a sport that can draw a line of direct evolution from its early developmental stage the game of Football at Rugby School to the present day, by looking at the sets of written laws that have been published over the years. The only aim of Football at Rugby School throughout its recorded history was to score a goal by kicking the ball over the crossbar by a place or drop kick. In the early days of the game, its most likely that the crossbar was actually a tree branch. The goal continued to be the main aim of Rugby Union throughout its secondary developmental stage as Rugby School Rules, as well as during the first 108 years of its existence as the sport of Rugby Union, up until 1979. The goal is still the distinctive feature of the game of Rugby Union, as can be seen from the results of Rugby Unions showpiece event the Rugby World Cup Final. The actual date of origin of the sport of Rugby Union is unknown, but can most likely be identified as the exact moment in the game of Football at Rugby School that the rule that the ball must go above the crossbar in order for a goal to have been scored was introduced. I believe this to have been circa 17801782.
The probabilities of for the origin of Rugby Union being the correct one, and the relevant related dates for each theory are as follows:
Correct terminology There is a very high probability that the origin of Rugby Union lies at Rugby School between 1778 and 1812 during an early developmental form of the
game, termed Football at Rugby School. Football at Eton is a contributory
game of Football at Rugby School.
ORIGIN POSSIBILITY 2 There is a low probability that between 1743 and 1776, the boys and/or masters at Rugby School invented the game of Football at Rugby School from scratch, either by birth or by creation. This took place without the direction of an Old Etonian or the influence of any other game. In the case of the birth, the origin lies with when the first rule was made. In the case of the created game, the origin lies with when a resolution to play the game was made, or if no resolution was made then the origin lies with when an agreement on the rules of the game was made. I believe the probability of either of these methods being the origin of Rugby Union to be low.
Correct terminology There is a low probability that the origin of Rugby Union lies at Rugby School, circa 17431776, with the boys and/or masters having birthed or created an early form of the game, termed Football at Rugby School.
Caveat If you believe that a form of folk football is the origin of Rugby Union then you must be able to supply a clear evidence-based or potential theoretical pathway from that or those particular types of folk football to Football at Rugby School, proving that the main aim in that ancient form of folk football was to score a goal by kicking the ball over a crossbar.
OTHER I believe that it is not possible that the origin of Rugby Union is something different to the above three possibilities.
Step 1 LOCATION Rugby School, trees or posts with a crossbar.
Step 2 PERSONNEL The pupils of Rugby School.
Step 3 EQUIPMENT Ball.
Step 4 ACTIONS Mainly kicking and catching the ball.
Step 5 AIM To score a goal a player had to kick the ball over the crossbar and between the posts.
Step 6 GAME A set of rules for Football at Rugby School are verbally agreed between the personnel.
The ORIGIN occurred between 1743 and 1812 the moment that steps 5 and 6 became coexistent.
Step 7 ORGANISED GAME 1845 First written rules of Football at Rugby School are put in place.
Step 8 SPORT 1862 The first set of rules for the game of Football at Rugby School that could be played elsewhere, in places other than Rugby School, were put in place. The governing body was Rugby School and the sport was called Rugby School Rules.
Step 9 NATIONAL SPORT 1871 The Rugby Football Union was formed in order to govern the Rugby School Rules sport in England. This sport became known as Rugby Union.
Step 10 INTERNATIONAL SPORT 1886 The International Board was formed by members of the Scottish, Irish & Welsh Unions. This organisation is now called World Rugby and it is the governing body worldwide for the sport of Rugby Union.
THE WILLIAM WEBB ELLIS EVENT
It is impossible that the William Webb Ellis event is the origin of Rugby Union. Even if the event happened, and there is an element of doubt as to whether or not it did, Football at Rugby School was already in place when Webb Ellis was playing it.
Correct terminology The William Webb Ellis event is not the origin of Rugby Union.
Caveat If you still believe that the Webb Ellis event is the origin of Rugby Union then you must be able to provide acceptable answers to the following questions:
What game was William Webb Ellis playing in 1822?
What game was William Webb Ellis playing in 1825?
(If your answers to the above two questions are the same then please answer this question)
How can William Webb Ellis have invented a game that he was already playing?
(If your answers to the two questions are different then please answer this question)
Where are the changes in the laws and in the name of the actual game as it was agreed upon by the people who were playing it? If Webb Ellis invented a game, why was there no change?
If Rugby Union was a running game when William Webb Ellis died in 1872, 49 years after he was supposed to have invented a game that nobody at the time knew he had invented, including himself, why was it possible to score any number of touch downs by running in with the ball and yet still lose the game by one kick (a goal) to nil?
There is no other viable option than the origin of Rugby Union lying with the game of Football at Rugby School sometime between 1743 and 1812. The origin and evolution of Rugby Union can now be traced from the game Football at Rugby School circa 1783 to World Rugby, the governing body of Rugby Union today.
Details of how we tested these rules against the sport of Rugby Union can be found in the below publication.