Early days at St Paul’s School and the RFU

Football ‘in the style started at Rugby School’ was probably played at St Paul’s School in the 1850s and is well documented by the 1860s. By then, not only had OPs already played together regularly against St Paul’s School, but a fixture as early as 1863 against Richmond has been found.

The RFU was founded following a letter which appeared in The Times on December 24th, 1870, from the respective Honorary Secretaries of Richmond and Blackheath:

“An opinion has for some time prevailed among the supporters of Rugby football that some code of rules should be adopted by all clubs who profess to play the Rugby game … Each club plays according to its own rules on its own ground and so … confusion and disputes are generally the result.

We therefore hope that all clubs playing the Rugby game will join with us in forming a code to be generally adopted. Secretaries of clubs approving of this will greatly oblige by forwarding their names to us.”

On January 26th, 1871, a meeting of the leading clubs took place at the Pall Mall Restaurant, Regent Street. Thirty two attended that inaugural Meeting, representing twenty one clubs of which only eight now remain, namely: Guy’s Hospital; Blackheath; Richmond; Harlequin; Civil Service; King’s College and two schools: Wellington College and St Paul’s. It is notable that it was two Pauline pupils, not masters, who showed the initiative to attend and who certainly did better than the Wasps’ officers who are alleged to have gone to the wrong pub!

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