Library kicks off Rugby World Cup with a new book

7 September 2007

Rugby_Cover_smallThe Bodleian Library in association with the Rugby Football Union explores the evolution of rugby football and the intriguing history behind its shifting rules in a new book, The Original Rules of Rugby, published to coincide with the Rugby World Cup 2007.

Following on from the success of The Rules of Association Football 1863 and in time for the Rugby World Cup in September – October 2007, this book investigates the origins of the game of rugby and reproduces for the first time in a single book both the first rules of the game, drawn up at Rugby School in 1845 and the first rules of the Rugby Football Union, published in 1871.

In the forward, Martin Johnson, said: ‘This little book is a welcome and fascinating glimpse, for players and supporters alike, into the heart of the game they love.’

The introduction by Jed Smith, the curator of the Rugby Football Museum in Twickenham, provides the first systematic exploration of the origin of the rules of the game and their development.

The book includes images from the unique manuscript held at the Rugby Football Union as well as nineteenth-century illustrations of the game as it was first played, capturing its early spirit and enthusiasm.

  • The Bodleian Library Publishing programme publishes books about or related to collections of books and manuscripts found in the Bodleian Library and other OULS libraries, with the aim of increasing knowledge of and access to these historic documents. All the Library’s titles can be viewed and ordered at
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