Tradition has it that rugby football began in 1823 when William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby private school in England, got fed up with kicking the leather around the soccer field and decided to pick it up and run. The idea caught on and rugby became a popular winter game at British schools and universities.Rugby's American ancestry dates back to 1874, when McGill University in Montreal challenged Harvard. Yale, Princeton, and Columbia showed an interest for a while, but then concentrated on gridiron football. The same did not happen in California, however. In 1913, a New Zealand team toured the state, and rugby has had its followers there ever since. Romania learned from France in the late 19th century. Argentina picked up the game from English and Scots migrants. Rugby was taken to Canada by British settlers. The Japanese learned their rugby from British, Australian, and New Zealand occupying troops after World War II - another example of the sport spreading by international contact.

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