There’s a rugby team on St. Simons Island. Who knew?
The Golden Isles Rugby Club, nicknamed the Hammerheads, has been playing regularly in the Glynn County area since 1976. If you drove by the playing field on Frederica Road you would be forgiven for thinking you were seeing soccer, or football. Actually, rugby looks similar to both games because it is similar to both games. One of the reasons players love the game so much is that it combines the physical contact of football, the kicking and fitness of soccer, and the fast break and passing of basketball. And, in rugby everyone runs with the ball, kicks the ball and tackles. You have to be a player with many skills.
Rugby’s an exciting game, and it’s been around, in various forms, for a long time. It predates and is father to the American game of football. There were a number of different types of football played in England between 1400 and 1800. Rugby football developed from a version of soccer played at English public schools during the 19 century.
As the lore has it, the game got its name when William Webb Ellis, with what is called “a fine disregard for the rules of football,” took the ball in his arms and ran with it.” It was here that this distinctive feature of rugby became part of the game. The School in England where Ellis ran with the ball was named the Rugby School.
Therefore the altered version of the game became known as “that rugby football.” For half a century “that rugby football” or “Rugby’s Game” was widely played by varying rules until, in 1871, the Rugby Football Union was formed in England to codify and control the, by then, popular sport. In the following decade, rugby’s unified code spread throughout the world, arriving in the United Sates at Harvard College, where the first recorded match was played against McGill University of Montreal in 1874.