Nelson teens play in tournament where rugby was first invented

Tue, Mar 28

At Rugby School in England, where the sport was first invented, teenagers from Nelson College are bringing a slice of New Zealand.

In 1823, schoolboy William Webb Ellis was said to have caught the ball during a game similar to Aussie Rules — and then decided to run with it. Now, in the town and school the sport was named after, a 20-team sevens rugby tournament is being held in celebration.

"With that great act of defiance and a fine disregard for the laws of the game, or the rules of the game, we have this extraordinary sport," Rugby School headmaster Peter Green said.

"And importantly for us, we wanted to make sure it was a schoolboys' celebration because WIlliam Webb Ellis was a schoolboy."

Schools showed up from around the world — Australia, Japan, Canada, Chile — showing how far the game has travelled in 200 years.

It's a significant event for Nelson College, which played the first game of rugby in New Zealand in 1870.

The match was re-enacted in Nelson during the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

"To be here in England with all my mates... it's pretty special," said Nelson College student Liam McKenzie.


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