Should Rugby do more to promote itself as the birthplace of rugby? - The Rugby Observer

Should Rugby do more to promote itself as the birthplace of rugby?

Rugby Editorial 2nd Apr, 2024   0

In the heart of England lies Rugby, a town synonymous with the creation of one of the world’s most popular sports. As we stand, breached into rugby football’s second century, the question arises: Should rugby do more to promote itself as a tourist attraction, leveraging its unique status as the birthplace of the game?

Birthplace of a Global Sport

The story of William Webb Ellis, a schoolboy at Rugby School, who, in 1823, with a “fine disregard for the rules of football… caught the ball in his arms and ran with it,” creating the game that bears the town’s name, is legendary​​​​.

However, this rich heritage and history is a potentially huge tourism tool that has arguably been underutilised by the town.

What’s Currently on Offer

Currently, Rugby makes commendable efforts to celebrate its legacy. The Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum and Rugby School offer glimpses into the sport’s origins, attracting thousands of visitors yearly​​.

Added to this, events like the commissioning of a film to mark the bicentenary of rugby football highlight the town’s ongoing relationship with the game and its community impact​​. However, there’s a sense that Rugby could further amplify its voice on the global stage. After all, the film was publicised by global news outlets like RugbyPass and really put the town on the map. But, since, little else has been done to promote Rugby.

Looking to the Future

By enhancing its offerings and marketing, Rugby could attract more international visitors, boosting the local economy and fostering a deeper appreciation of rugby’s history. Engaging storytelling, interactive experiences, and global outreach could transform Rugby from a pilgrimage site for die-hard fans to a bucket-list destination for a broader audience.

Moreover, integrating modern rugby’s vibrancy with its historical roots could offer visitors a fuller experience. Imagine interactive exhibitions that tell the global story of rugby, or annual festivals that coincide with major rugby tournaments, drawing fans from across the world. France demonstrated in the 2023 World Cup that technology can be used during major rugby events as a powerful tool for fan interaction and experience.


While Rugby has made efforts to celebrate its heritage, there is untapped potential in its role as the birthplace of rugby. With strategic promotion and development, Rugby can enhance its appeal as a tourist destination, benefiting both the town and rugby enthusiasts globally. Yes, this vision requires investment — in infrastructure, marketing, and collaboration with rugby institutions worldwide. But it’s a long-term commitment to elevating Rugby’s profile, ensuring that the town is not just a footnote in the sport’s history but an integral part of its present and future.


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