Ellis Rugby 1871 Shirts


We were intrigued by the story behind the formation of the game of Rugby Football. So much so, it inspired Ellis Rugby to develop our clothing collection.

A meeting was held at Pall Mall Restaurant on the 26th January 1871

By about 1870 it had become clear that Rugby was being played to a variety of rules, not only in London but country-wide. In December 1870, Edwin H. Ash the secretary of the Richmond Football Club, wrote a letter to the papers which stated: ‘Those who play the Rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice, as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play.’

With this thought in mind, 32 members of London and suburban football clubs gathered together on the evening of 26th January 1871 in the Pall Mall Restaurant at 9-10 Haymarket, London, `to codify the rules of the game and to provide a central governing body.’

21 Clubs attended the Rugby Meeting

It was at this meeting, presided over by Edward Carleton Holmes (the captain of Richmond Football Club) that the Rugby Football Union was founded.

The 21 original member clubs enrolled that evening were: Addison, Belsize Park, Blackheath, Civil Service, Clapham Rovers, Flamingoes, Gipsies, Guy’s Hospital, Harlequins, King’s College Hospital, Lausanne, Law, Marlborough Nomads, Mohicans, Queen’s House, Ravenscourt Park, Richmond, St Paul’s School, Wellington College, West Kent and Wimbledon Hornets.

The Laws of the Game were drafted for 1871 Rugby

Each club payed an entrance fee and annual subscription of 5/- (25p). They drafted a set of bye-laws and elected a president, a secretary and a committee of thirteen. The Union was to have one general meeting a year every October, to which each member club was entitled to send two of its members.

The Union officers entrusted to draft the new laws of the game were: President: Algernon Rutter (Richmond); Honorary secretary and treasurer: Edwin Ash (Richmond). The committee consisted of: Reginald Birkett (Clapham Rovers), Frederick Currey (Marlborough Nomads), W.F. Eaton (Ravenscourt Park), A.J. English (Wellington College), J.H. Ewart (Guy’s Hospital), Arthur George Guillemard (West Kent), F. Hartley (Flamingoes), Edward Carleton Holmes (Richmond), R. Leigh (e.rdheer FrederickStokes. c u b Sir John Henry Luscombe (Gypsies), L.J. Maton (Wimbledon Hornets), E. Rutter (Richmond) and Frederick Stokes (Blackheath).

Two Months later the first International game was played

Barely two months later, in the first ever international match, Frederick Stokes of Blackheath captained England against Scotland — and his team included Luscombe, Birkett, and Guillemard, all of them members of the first ever Rugby Union committee.

Between February and June of that year the committee thrashed out the laws of the game at Edward Carleton Holmes’ chambers of law in Bedford Row. After three meetings the actual drafting of the laws was entrusted to Algernon Rutter, Edward Holmes himself and I.J. Maton, three old Rugbeians and famous players in their own right, each of whom had a thorough knowledge of both the Rugby School laws as well as the major variations affected by the senior London clubs.

The new Laws completed and adopted

Even then the work was coming on very slowly, and there was some doubt as to whether the code would be hammered out before the beginning of the 1871/72 season. Luckily for the committee, but rather unluckily for him, Maton broke his leg — and accepted an offer of a large supply of tobacco if he completed the work before the next Union meeting! By the 22nd June the new code had been approved by the committee, and on the 24th July it was accepted by a special general meeting. One of the main changes that the new laws brought about were the abolition of hacking and tripping.

In the years up to 1900, many famous current and ex-players became Presidents of the Rugby Football Union. E. Rutter played for both Richmond and Middlesex CCC, F.I. Currey played for England in 1872/73, J. Maclaren, a former Manchester player, became the first northern RFU President in 1882/83 and E. T. Gurdon captained Richmond and England before becoming President.

The Inspiration behind the Ellis Rugby 1871 Shirts

While many of these teams have subsequently disbanded, the Ellis Rugby 21 Club Collection brings these clubs back to life to form an exciting range of contemporary fashion wear.

As well as our England 1871 styles, we offer Ellis Rugby 1871 shirts designs inspired by The Law RFC, Flamingoes RFC, Queen’s House RFC, Ravenscourt Park RFC and Hornets RFC. Take a look at the Collection of Ellis Rugby 1871 shirts – CLICK HERE