The history of the Rugby T-Shirt The Law 1871 Navy
Rugby T-Shirt The Law story. There were a number of different ‘rugby’ type games played during the 1800s – Eton Rules, Cambridge Rules, The Winchester Game were all popular at the time. The formation of Club Rugby had evolved from ‘Old Boys’ of the Schools, however it was difficult when the teams organised fixtures as they would be used to playing their brand of football.
On 4 December 1870, Edwin Ash of Richmond and Benjamin Burns of Blackheath published a letter in The Times suggesting that “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.”
So on 26 January 1871 a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London at the Pall Mall restaurant.
Founder Club The Law team and players
The Law R.F.C. was a 19th-century football club that fielded teams playing by rugby football codes. It is notable for being one of the twenty-one founding members of the game of Rugby Football and for producing in a very short life span, a number of international players.
The Law was established in 1870 as a closed club for members of the legal profession. Presumably because of the demands of their profession, the club could only play on Wednesdays. The club was also nomadic, and so despite having a secretary based at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the club effectively played only away matches. The teams colours were Black with a red cross on the breast.
On 26 January 1871, it sent representation to a meeting of twenty-one London and suburban football clubs that followed Rugby School rules (Wasps was invited by failed to attend) which assembled at the Pall Mall Restaurant in Regent Street. A president, a secretary and treasurer, and a committee of thirteen were elected, to whom was entrusted the drawing-up of the laws of the game upon the basis of the code in use at Rugby School. The Law was considered prominent enough to have been invited, and also gain one of the thirteen places on the original committee in the person of R. Leigh.
Percival Wilkinson was the clubs first international, representing England in 1872 against Scotland.
Wilkinson was born in Hampstead, London, the son of William Martin Wilkinson, a solicitor of 44, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London and his wife, Elizabeth, who hailed from Derbyshire.
Percival’s uncle, his father’s brother, was the Swedenborgian writer J. Garth Wilkinson. The legal profession was deeply rooted in the Wilkinson family, with Percival’s grandfather James John Wilkinson (died 1845), having been a writer on mercantile law and a judge of the County Palatine of Durham. Of Percival’s two older brothers, Edward and William, the latter went into their father’s firm and of Percival’s two younger brothers, Charles and Hugh, the latter trained as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. Percival himself was at school locally, and then by 1871 was an articled clerk to an attorney.
He married Constance Vallance Stratford Bell in 1878, and his son Cuthbert was born in 1880. In 1881 Percival Wilkinson was still a solicitor in London, but died sometime before 1891.
As a rugby player he was listed as belonging to the Law Club. This was a closed club for members of the legal profession, hence his position in an attorney’s firm qualified him.
He also played rugby at halfback for Harlequins, his local club that when he first played for them was known as The Hampstead Football Club, but changed its name in 1870. However, when selected for England, his team was given as Law FC because, according to one source, Harlequins were not well known enough at the time.
His international debut, and only appearance, was on 5 February 1872 in front of 4,000 spectators at The Oval in the England vs Scotland match. This was the second time the teams had met and in fact the second international match, as well as being the first time England had hosted an international rugby match. England won the match, a reversal of the previous year’s result in Scotland.
Manufactured from 100% cotton, the Ellis Rugby, Rugby T-Shirt The Law features a classic applique cross of The Law club celebrating the history of the formation of Rugby Football. Also, this garment includes the Ellis Rugby applique shield on the arm and herringbone side vents. It also has a velvet tape trim on the neck, plus a decorative 21 Club woven label.
This T-Shirt is available in sizes M – 2XL.