200 Years of Rugby – With a Fine Disregard


200 Years of Rugby – With a Fine Disregard

2023 marks the 200th anniversary of the game of rugby – two centuries since William Webb Ellis took the ball in his arms and ran with it at Rugby School – the RSJ team were pleased to kick off a year of celebrations in Japan on the evening of February 1.

At a special event co-hosted by six international chambers of commerce in Tokyo, the RSJ senior leadership team were joined by a senior delegation from Rugby UK, led by Peter Green, Executive Headmaster of the Rugby School Group.

An Unusual Hero

Founded in 1567, Rugby School is where Webb Ellis set the birth of rugby in motion; he caught a ball that was kicked to him and decided to run with it to the goal line rather than kick it.

This start to rugby shows that “small matters lead to great results,” said Mr Green in a keynote address. “Webb Ellis is the unusual hero of our great game.”


It was with a “fine disregard for the rules” of football that the Rugby School pupil changed the game and became a global legend.

Green also noted that the first ever rugby club was formed by a graduate of Rugby School, and the England rugby team’s uniform colours today pay tribute to Rugby School. Moreover, it was a graduate of Rugby School who introduced rugby to Japan in the mid-19th century, thereby starting Japan’s long relationship with the game.

A big year

The sport is now enjoyed by over 410 million fans across the globe, including over 100 guests who gathered for the event hosted at the Tokyo Edition hotel.

It is a momentous year for the sport as Japan passes the baton to France to host the Rugby World Cup 2023.

Throughout 2023, Rugby School, Rugby School Japan, and Rugby School Thailand, along with the global rugby community, will be celebrating this anniversary “With A Fine Disregard”, in honour of Webb Ellis.


Thank you to all who attended, and co-hosted “200 Years of Rugby” in Tokyo on February 1.

British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ)
Australian New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ANZCCJ)
Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ)
CCI France Japon (CCIJF)
Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce (IJCC)
South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SACCJ).

Further reading

200 Years of Rugby HERE (BCCJ coverage, by Sterling Content)