Australian Football, rugby - foundations and codification

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RedV3x

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Exactly right.
No. It's quite a sad story for rugby. Rugby was the preferred game of the British (military) establishment in part because it was presented like opposing forces at war but football had little influence because it was confined to schools. Cricket was played by gentleman's clubs. The wealth of colonialists in Australia led to social change with the first being Saturday being given over to leisure. This moved colonial football from Melbourne schools into the community. For the first time football was played by the community in community football clubs in an organised competition over a fixtured season for the attainment of a premiership. The popularity of the colonial game led it to be played in enclosed grounds where attendance fees could be charged. This led to the payment of players and the further improvement of sporting infrastructure.

Colonial football spread quickly throughout the colonies. The British establishment first welcomed the game and then banned it, fearing it's popularity would overtake rugby. They shouldn't have worried. It was soccer that raced past rugby when soccer eventually when English soccer clubs developed modern strategies like passing the ball and the game no longer looked like rugby. The "fair catch" rule had been removed earlier. Soccer was picked up through the enterprise of the British Empire whilst rugby languished in the private schools of the British Empire. It took rugby an exorbitantly long time to become professional and by the time they did, it was much too late - rugby had completely blown their initial advantage.

Australian Rules Football and community football spread extremely quickly but was effectively halted by WWI and WWII and reduced to being played in Australia. Media coverage by the inventions of radio and television increased the popularly of sport generally but colour television really boosted elite sports whilst neglecting the also-rans. The introduction of payTV and now streaming has done little to advance the development of minor sports and caters mainly to the converted. Contrary to popular belief, the AFL does have targeted development through investment in various means. Otherwise development relies on the traditional 'organic' approach.
 

Aussie in exile

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The British Empire doesn't necessarily equate to direct colonial possessions. Buenos Aires especially, but other European and international cities had tens of thousands of rich business oriented Englishmen (who also had the ability to relax and play/watch sport one weekends while locals worked longer weeks) who spread the game. Even with the historical success of e.g. Argentina Rugby, it was up until the early 2000's very much a sport of country club membership, not wider fandom.

Plenty of famous clubs were directly started by Englishmen in their cities. It's why AC Milan's name is AC Milan and not Milano.

Like everyone else in this thread happy to provide support to organic growth (if an individual Aussie expat starts a club and asks for some free Sherrins, we should pay for it), but we can't replicate 19th century global growth with footy, which is the point people were making.
So we agree Rugby being played in non English speaking places in nothing to do with the British empire.
Lets not forget that Australian football is a result of plagiarism of 3 sports. Rugby,Gaelic football played on a cricket oval.
2 very English and 1 very Irish. Forget the myth that the local denizens were playing Australia football when the first fleet arrived, it just that a myth
 

Gigantor

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So we agree Rugby being played in non English speaking places in nothing to do with the British empire.
Lets not forget that Australian football is a result of plagiarism of 3 sports. Rugby,Gaelic football played on a cricket oval.
2 very English and 1 very Irish. Forget the myth that the local denizens were playing Australia football when the first fleet arrived, it just that a myth
IN fact the Gaelic part of your tale is just as much a myth as anything else.
 

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threenewpadlocks

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So we agree Rugby being played in non English speaking places in nothing to do with the British empire.
I literally said this:
The British Empire doesn't necessarily equate to direct colonial possessions

Lets not forget that Australian football is a result of plagiarism of 3 sports. Rugby,Gaelic football played on a cricket oval.
2 very English and 1 very Irish. Forget the myth that the local denizens were playing Australia football when the first fleet arrived, it just that a myth
  • Football gets played in public schools of England (ie rich boy private schools), see Tom Brown's School Days for example. Not really played outside of the school yard.
  • Four people living in Melbourne who were educated in those public schools come together in 1858, wanting to structure and organise the informal football games being played by people, so they create a bunch of rules which is a mish-mash of the different internal school rules, and their own philosophies of how football should be played (maybe Tom Wills had Marngrook influence? Certainly evidence about debate about things like including a crossbar or not, and the extent that certain physical actions like tripping and hacking should be allowed, more a philosophical debate the extent of physicality in the game).
  • Organising this had been on people like Tom Wills' mind over the previous year or more as he umpired the Scotch v Melboure Grammar game immediately before the rules were codified and he earlier still wrote a letter to a sporting magazine about creating a club to structure the informal games being played (if football didn't exist, how could he possibly write a letter referencing it?)
This is pretty much the historical consensus. I'm not sure where you're getting your other claims from
  • People claiming "football was being played" in the sense that there were always British games from schools etc. where people would run with the ball, pass and punt it, people are not literally claiming that there was any sort of organisational rules or structure to it
  • How can sports be plagarised when the Australians decided to codify their sport formally written down before any of the other Sports in England?
 

Aussie in exile

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I literally said this:




  • Football gets played in public schools of England (ie rich boy private schools), see Tom Brown's School Days for example. Not really played outside of the school yard.
  • Four people living in Melbourne who were educated in those public schools come together in 1858, wanting to structure and organise the informal football games being played by people, so they create a bunch of rules which is a mish-mash of the different internal school rules, and their own philosophies of how football should be played (maybe Tom Wills had Marngrook influence? Certainly evidence about debate about things like including a crossbar or not, and the extent that certain physical actions like tripping and hacking should be allowed, more a philosophical debate the extent of physicality in the game).
  • Organising this had been on people like Tom Wills' mind over the previous year or more as he umpired the Scotch v Melboure Grammar game immediately before the rules were codified and he earlier still wrote a letter to a sporting magazine about creating a club to structure the informal games being played (if football didn't exist, how could he possibly write a letter referencing it?)
This is pretty much the historical consensus. I'm not sure where you're getting your other claims from
  • People claiming "football was being played" in the sense that there were always British games from schools etc. where people would run with the ball, pass and punt it, people are not literally claiming that there was any sort of organisational rules or structure to it
  • How can sports be plagarised when the Australians decided to codify their sport formally written down before any of the other Sports in England?
Please post the link that Australian football is played in English public schools today on a regular basis?
 

NoobPie

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So Australian football is not played on Cricket ovals?
Remind me what school Tom Wills went to in England and what sports he played there?
Cricket ovals weren't used for at least a decade.

Tom wills playing the proto version of rugby at the rugby school is more relevant for the rules not adopted in Australian football than those adopted.

You generally think all these vague links you are making passes for historical fact and yet you are completely wrong
 

threenewpadlocks

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So Australian football is not played on Cricket ovals?
Remind me what school Tom Wills went to in England and what sports he played there?
What are you on about?

Australian football - in its very first years, after being codified, was literally played on a rectangle on whatever paddock. The reason for eventually playing on cricket ovals over the next couple of decades was because they were the only enclosed grounds, so they could start charging people for attendance, and the game adapted to the shape of the ground.

Tom Wills went to Rugby School. Yes, Rugby School's rules eventually 'leaked' out into the general public and became Rugby.

But critically, this was a) after Australian football was codified, and Wills went to the school - the rules in the 1840's were not the same as a few decades later
b) Wills was literally just one of four people who codified the rules. We have documented evidence that he tried to make the rules of Australian football more rugby-like (ie putting a crossbar in and making scores only over the top of the crossbar) but that was pushed back
c) Wills wasn't so dogged to ensure that the rules were literally Rugby's, and was more just concerned with playing any football that he could. Sure, he pushed for the rules he was familiar with, but he didn't literally want to play the sport he played in with school. In fact, early on in his coaching/playing career, he pretty much broke the lack of offside rule which existed in Rugby. So clearly his forcing of the Rugby issue wasn't that strong.

It's worth noting that in the 19th century football was pretty interchangeable. Teams could tour and play each other's football and be competitive (ie see Carlton touring northern states). The distinction of football evolved over time. "Copying" other sports is a bit misleading, football was just football at the time with minor differences. like whether or not you could kick the opponents in the shin or not.
 

threenewpadlocks

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Please post the link that Australian football is played in English public schools today on a regular basis?
What are you on about?
Hammersley, Smith, Thompson and Wills wrote the original rules. Two were Australians who, being rich, were sent to England for school. Two were British immigrants. They went to different schools and clearly discussed the differences and similarities of the rules they played with as schoolboys, then came up with compromise rules. The act of creating compromise rules, and codifying them, created a new sport.
 

BobbyMorri

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There is a reason why soccer, rugby, Australian Rules, Gridiron and even Gaelic all have football as the common name. They all, in one way or another, were based on English Schools. These Schools were coming up with a new bunch of rules depending on what they felt "football" should be, they all "copied" each other. they spread because England traded with everyone. Heck, if you didn't trade with Britain then, they would force you to. Not saying that Australian Rules(plus others) come directly from English schools.

If the world was in the 1800's but with the current world powers as they are, then American sports would dominate instead of soccer.
 

Professor Knowall

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Here's a direct quote from someone who was right there on the scene at the birth of our game - Tom Will's cousin, HCA Harrison. From chapter 7 of his book "The Story of a new Athlete" -
"... Till the year 1858 no Football had been played in the colony. But when TW Wills arrived from England, fresh from Rugby school ... he suggested that we should make a start with it. he very sensibly advised us not to take up rugby although that had been his own game because he considered it, as then played, unsuitable for grown men ... but to
work out a game of our own. So a number of us, principally cricketers, got together and began to play. It was rather
go-as-you-please affair at first, but a set of rules was gradually evolved, which experience taught us to be the best
..."

The first Australian Football games were, as well documented, played in the "Richmond Paddock" (now part of the MCG concourse and carpark), next to the MCG. As for playing on a cricket ground, the first known occurance was a one-off game in 1859 (outlined in Harrison's book) but regular games were not allowed until 1877, the first year of the VFA.
 
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Gigantor

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There is a reason why soccer, rugby, Australian Rules, Gridiron and even Gaelic all have football as the common name. They all, in one way or another, were based on English Schools.
I think everyone who knows about the history of all the modern forms of football would agree here.
The one proviso I would add is that a variety of "folk" footballs had been played across the British Isles for centuries, in other words, forms of football preceded the schoolboy games.
Those various forms of "folk" football were known by many residing in Australia back in the 1850s (and earlier).
This is important because along with English schoolboy games, we have to be open to "folk" football being an influence on Australian football.

literally played on a rectangle on whatever paddock.
Correct, especially the latter, the truth is they played in whatever space they could find (in between trees), indeed occasionally a tree would be found on the actual field of play. Not only was the shape of the field whatever could be found, but the shape of the ball was whatever could be found, and it's not as if they were perfectly spherical or elliptical either.
Whenever we come across anyone in these sorts of discussions who is trying to jump to conclusions on the shape of these things back in 1859-60, we know we are talking to someone who doesn't have a clue about the history of football.
 

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NoobPie

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There is a reason why soccer, rugby, Australian Rules, Gridiron and even Gaelic all have football as the common name. They all, in one way or another, were based on English Schools. These Schools were coming up with a new bunch of rules depending on what they felt "football" should be, they all "copied" each other. they spread because England traded with everyone. Heck, if you didn't trade with Britain then, they would force you to. Not saying that Australian Rules(plus others) come directly from English schools.

If the world was in the 1800's but with the current world powers as they are, then American sports would dominate instead of soccer.
Wrong yet again

Irish folk football was played continuously for centuries. It is absurd to suggest that Gaelic football was "based on english schools". Folk football more generally was played in Britain and Ireland for centuries

The impetus for modern football was the establishment of clubs by adults in Australia and England who had played various football type games in schools. While the initial rules were put together referencing rules from english schools, the evidence is that the rules were tested and refined based on actual played experience of the people playing it. In Australia, the first codified football code, clearly most of the early players wouldn't have gone to english schools. It's initial rules actually most closely resemble the Sheffield rules which there is no evidence were referenced by the initial rule writers. It is just that these would have been intuitive to the broad concept of football without the strict offside that rugby and soccer were both playing under

English football codes weren't spread because "england traded with everyone". They spread on the back of british people playing the sport in various places and, over generally a decent amount of time, the sports catching on. Like your vague "super power" thesis this is 13 year old stuff

Australian football is the first codified football code. It was established in what was then a 23 year old british outpost colony ultimately rooted in folk games played for centuries, derivatives of which became popular english public schools. In the late 1850s, on opposite sides of the planet, adult clubs started arising at the same time. Australian football was markedly different (no offside, massive fields) than what was to become soccer and modern rugby were playing in the 1860s
 

BobbyMorri

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Wrong yet again

Irish folk football was played continuously for centuries. It is absurd to suggest that Gaelic football was "based on english schools". Folk football more generally was played in Britain and Ireland for centuries

The impetus for modern football was the establishment of clubs by adults in Australia and England who had played various football type games in schools. While the initial rules were put together referencing rules from english schools, the evidence is that the rules were tested and refined based on actual played experience of the people playing it. In Australia, the first codified football code, clearly most of the early players wouldn't have gone to english schools. It's initial rules actually most closely resemble the Sheffield rules which there is no evidence were referenced by the initial rule writers. It is just that these would have been intuitive to the broad concept of football without the strict offside that rugby and soccer were both playing under

English football codes weren't spread because "england traded with everyone". They spread on the back of british people playing the sport in various places and, over generally a decent amount of time, the sports catching on. Like your vague "super power" thesis this is 13 year old stuff

Australian football is the first codified football code. It was established in what was then a 23 year old british outpost colony ultimately rooted in folk games played for centuries, derivatives of which became popular english public schools. In the late 1850s, on opposite sides of the planet, adult clubs started arising at the same time. Australian football was markedly different (no offside, massive fields) than what was to become soccer and modern rugby were playing in the 1860s
cool whatever. go talk to yourself in a mirror

Are you able to debate a topic without being a campaigner. just immature and needless.
 

NoobPie

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cool whatever. go talk to yourself in a mirror

Are you able to debate a topic without being a campaigner. just immature and needless.
Haha, you've literally called me a "campaigner" and then "just immature" without a word in between....the self awareness is soooo so tiny

I merely implied your thinking is immature (i.e. this is thirteen year old stuff). Because it is.

And thats in a 4 para response of several hundred words.

Again, without a hint of self awareness, your can't engage with with my post so you resort to ad hominem
 

The_Wookie

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Wrong yet again

Irish folk football was played continuously for centuries. It is absurd to suggest that Gaelic football was "based on english schools". Folk football more generally was played in Britain and Ireland for centuries

The impetus for modern football was the establishment of clubs by adults in Australia and England who had played various football type games in schools. While the initial rules were put together referencing rules from english schools, the evidence is that the rules were tested and refined based on actual played experience of the people playing it. In Australia, the first codified football code, clearly most of the early players wouldn't have gone to english schools. It's initial rules actually most closely resemble the Sheffield rules which there is no evidence were referenced by the initial rule writers. It is just that these would have been intuitive to the broad concept of football without the strict offside that rugby and soccer were both playing under

English football codes weren't spread because "england traded with everyone". They spread on the back of british people playing the sport in various places and, over generally a decent amount of time, the sports catching on. Like your vague "super power" thesis this is 13 year old stuff

Australian football is the first codified football code. It was established in what was then a 23 year old british outpost colony ultimately rooted in folk games played for centuries, derivatives of which became popular english public schools. In the late 1850s, on opposite sides of the planet, adult clubs started arising at the same time. Australian football was markedly different (no offside, massive fields) than what was to become soccer and modern rugby were playing in the 1860s
Rugby school codified in 1845 - like with a written handbook and nearly 40 rules and everything by 1847. Melbourne Rules 1859. Both were modified extensively afterward - Australian football didnt really start to be more than derivatives of other codes until Harrisons changes in 1866 - but denying that Rugbys rules werent codified first is kind of ridiculous.

Football of some sort was played in Australia in 1829. Harrison may have been unaware of it, but its reported in the Sydney Monitor on July 25, 1829 - no details are really given as to the sort of football, other than being "popular in leicestershire".

football1829.PNG


An ad for a game of football appears in Queensland in 1849. And some sort of football was apparently played in Victoria in 1840, and in Tasmania in 1851.
 

NoobPie

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Rugby school codified in 1845 - like with a written handbook and nearly 40 rules and everything by 1847. Melbourne Rules 1859. Both were modified extensively afterward - Australian football didnt really start to be more than derivatives of other codes until Harrisons changes in 1866 - but denying that Rugbys rules werent codified first is kind of ridiculous.
No it isn't at all.

You would need to demonstrate that the rugby rules codified when rugby union was formed were a direct evolution of the rugby school rules. You are aware that there were other schools that played "rugby type" football that informed the evolution of the modern game that is called rugby?

Some soccer people would claim that their sport existed in the Cambridge or eton rules

The Melbourne rules set out in 1859 are the direct and continuous foundation rules from which modern australian football evolved. You cannot say that about rugby schools rules and modern rugby union unless you can demonstrate its the case beyond pointing at the name. Happy to concede if you can do so


Football of some sort was played in Australia in 1829. Harrison may have been unaware of it, but its reported in the Sydney Monitor on July 25, 1829 - no details are really given as to the sort of football, other than being "popular in leicestershire".

View attachment 1146662

An ad for a game of football appears in Queensland in 1849. And some sort of football was apparently played in Victoria in 1840, and in Tasmania in 1851.

Which precisely demonstrates that the concept of football wasn't just an english school thing and Australian football wasn't just a product of english school games.

What can be said though is that Australian football was a direct and continuous evolution of the rules and games of 1859. No doubt a substantial number of the earlier players had played football games in folk / festival settings who in turn influenced how the game evolved from there.
 

Gigantor

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Those early games of football were clearly forms of "folk" football, as mentioned, played in the British Isles for centuries.

The game played in Rugby School is indeed quite old, although I cannot say whether there is a direct, uninterrupted lineage from that game to modern Rugby.

In the case of Australian Football, there is clearly is a direct, uninterruptred lineage between the first codification in 1859 and modern Australian Football.

Some of the key indentifiers in Australain Football, what distinguishes it from all the other codes, are mentioned amongst those ten 1859 rules.
 

The_Wookie

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No it isn't at all.

You would need to demonstrate that the rugby rules codified when rugby union was formed were a direct evolution of the rugby school rules. You are aware that there were other schools that played "rugby type" football that informed the evolution of the modern game that is called rugby?
I mean apart from the fact that the game itself is referred to as rugby after the school where it was founded, and not after one of these many other nebulous other schools you refer to. Or the fact that the rules underwent numerous documented revisions, theres no doubt that the original laws of the game were the springboard for the rules formally set out in 1871.

Ive got to say, Ive never seen any serious historian query the foundations of rugby before, but here we are.

Some soccer people would claim that their sport existed in the Cambridge or eton rules
Some people can claim anything.

The Melbourne rules set out in 1859 are the direct and continuous foundation rules from which modern australian football evolved. You cannot say that about rugby schools rules and modern rugby union unless you can demonstrate its the case beyond pointing at the name. Happy to concede if you can do so
You can if you try reading the rules and you can see the evolution itself. Just as you can see the evolution of Australian rules beyond the basic lines written in 1859.
 

NoobPie

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I mean apart from the fact that the game itself is referred to as rugby after the school where it was founded, and not after one of these many other nebulous other schools you refer to.
And herein lies the fundamental flaw in your thinking. The fact that rugby was the name settled on when the association was formed provides precisely zero evidence of continuity from the rugby school rules. (IE that modern rugby was first codified in 1945)

Or the fact that the rules underwent numerous documented revisions, theres no doubt that the original laws of the game were the springboard for the rules formally set out in 1871.
You'd be able to point me to a link to a documented chronology of how the rugby school rules were progressively revisioned into what was adopted when the rfu formed than no?

Ive got to say, Ive never seen any serious historian query the foundations of rugby before, but here we are.
Classic Wookie strawman. So lame. What accepted foundation of rugby am I supposed to be querying?

How many references to Australian football being the first codified modern football code would you accept?

Next this conversation will be split off into a new thread with some misrepresentative title no doubt


Some people can claim anything.

You can if you try reading the rules and you can see the evolution itself. Just as you can see the evolution of Australian rules beyond the basic lines written in 1859.
Or I can read a link you provide that presents such an evolution from 1845 to 1871

I know in the early 1860s the adult football clubs of England that would become either soccer or rugby were seriously trying to reconcile in to one code.

I've plucked this from wiki to highlight the challenge you face in trying to establish continuity from the rules some school kids drew up in 1845

On 4 December 1870, Edwin Ash of Richmond and Benjamin Burns of Blackheath published a letter in The Times suggesting that "those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play". On 26 January 1871, a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London at the Pall Mall restaurant.[9]
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rugby_union#cite_note-Dunning-Sheard-2005-105-9
 

threenewpadlocks

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The ruleset in which the RFU was created wasn't to continue playing the game that they played as schoolboys as much as it was to play a game that could be a point of difference from the FA.

Historians can point to the influence between the two (stronger than any adult football-school football relationship) without making the assessment that they were literally one and the same.

On top of the fact that one's designed for boys and the other adults, there was enough adult-inspired changes to the rules in 1871 anyway to make it a more distinct sport - rules regarding the physicality of the sport, and how the ball returned into play etc.
 

NoobPie

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The ruleset in which the RFU was created wasn't to continue playing the game that they played as schoolboys as much as it was to play a game that could be a point of difference from the FA.

Historians can point to the influence between the two (stronger than any adult football-school football relationship) without making the assessment that they were literally one and the same.

On top of the fact that one's designed for boys and the other adults, there was enough adult-inspired changes to the rules in 1871 anyway to make it a more distinct sport - rules regarding the physicality of the sport, and how the ball returned into play etc.
Well said
 

Gigantor

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One issue we have in this space, especially in the Australian context is that a lot of "historians" absolutely hate Australian Football so they dedicate their scholastic endeavour towards demolishing the 'mythology' surrounding Australian Football while creating new mythologies about their own preferred sport.

The problem for these "historians" is that Australian Football is rich in source material. We have pretty good knowledge about the history of Australian Football because the source documents still exist.

When we talk about a club forming in the early 1860s, or even 1859, we actually have the source documentation to evidence that historical fact.

So it becomes hard work for these "historians" to demolish the "mythology" surrounding Australian Football and to pump up their own preferred sports.
 

The_Wookie

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And herein lies the fundamental flaw in your thinking. The fact that rugby was the name settled on when the association was formed provides precisely zero evidence of continuity from the rugby school rules. (IE that modern rugby was first codified in 1945)

You'd be able to point me to a link to a documented chronology of how the rugby school rules were progressively revisioned into what was adopted when the rfu formed than no?
The first five Rugby Football Union Presidents were Old Rugbeians. But that means nothing too I guess.

Sure. You can read through the rules as they go here

No doubt you can point me to ANY serious historian who disputes rugbys foundation. The first written rules, and thereby codification, were written at Rugby in 1845. No matter how much you try to get around this, its indisputable.

As for the rule progressions, you can find them yourself.

Classic Wookie strawman. So lame.
And so on to we come again to this crap. Im sorry I can go along with every thought you possess.

What accepted foundation of rugby am I supposed to be querying?
The foundation of rugby as identified by pretty much the majority of mainstream history.


How many references to Australian football being the first codified modern football code would you accept?
as an official code? sure. as far as codification goes, its literally a written set of rules, and rugby for instance predates Melbourne rules by some years.

Next this conversation will be split off into a new thread with some misrepresentative title no doubt
Probably, its off topic and not particularly relevant to this thread. I have a tendency to do that when things go pear shaped in a thread under my purview.

Or I can read a link you provide that presents such an evolution from 1845 to 1871
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Laws_of_Football_as_played_at_Rugby_School

I know in the early 1860s the adult football clubs of England that would become either soccer or rugby were seriously trying to reconcile in to one code.
That literally alters nothing about the foundations of rugby or the fact that a written set of rules existed in 1845.

I've plucked this from wiki to highlight the challenge you face in trying to establish continuity from the rules some school kids drew up in 1845

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rugby_union#cite_note-Dunning-Sheard-2005-105-9
Its not just the 1845 rules, its the continuted modification of said rules right up until 1871 - Rugby School continued to make their own modifications for years afterward.

Ah wikipedia. Next time you link to a footnote at least make it one that contains the information and isnt a link to a book and an ISBN.
 

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