The English sport of Rugby was created at the School Close, in 1823, by a boy named William Web Ellis. The boys who were his classmates were playing a football (soccer) game with him when he picked up the ball and ran with it.
For some reason, this spur-of-the-moment act was adopted into the rules of the game and Rugby was born. The headmaster of the school from 1828-1842, Dr. Arnold, brought the school into the spotlight with his controversial ideas and his educational reform.
A French boy named Pierre de Coubertin read about Dr. Arnold in the publication, “Tom Brown’s Schooldays.” Fascinated and intrigued, he later visited the Rugby School several times, observing the practices there. The game of Rugby was something he felt could be used to inspire young people to push themselves to greater heights.
So, Pierre Coubertin formed universal amateur athletics, to allow young people to compete with one another. In 1896, he hosted the first modern-day Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Rugby, and the school’s famed headmaster Dr. Arnold, had thus inspired the invention of the Olympics themselves, now a massive endeavor including a great many sports and bringing the many nations of the world together for friendly competition.
While Rugby is not the focus of the Olympics, nor of most countries outside of England, it is interesting to note that it was the inspiration for such incredible world change. The Rugby school still stands and is still in use today, with its young academic recipients playing Rugby as a major part of their activities.