Rugby Union Football, Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Records detailing the playing of caid, an ancient, if somewhat brutal athletic contest featuring (at least in part) a ball, throughout Ireland are suggestive of a willingness on the part of some early Irish people toward this form of sporting pursuit, similar in form to modern-day rugby. In particular, one version of this activity, field caid, popular in the ninth century, was played within a defined space and between a predetermined number of players. However, the belief that rugby somehow evolved out of field caid is rebuked by Edwin Van Esbeck (1999), a prominent Irish rugby historian. That said, according to Sean Diffley (1973), there is some evidence to suggest that William Webb Ellis, the man widely accredited with inventing rugby, may have played field caid in Ireland with relatives during the mid-1880s. However, other historians, having dispelled the idea that Ellis had anything to do with the invention of rugby and dismissing it instead as a convenient myth, believe rather that the game merely emerged through a process of evolution from other hand and ball games played during the 19th century. Nevertheless the mere existence of such a myth has done little to harm the development of the game in Ireland since its codification and subsequent development there over the past century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSports around the World: History, Culture and Practice
PublisherABC-CLIO, LLC
ISBN (Print)9781598843019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2012


  • Rugby Union
  • Ireland


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