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Aerial view of Rugby School UK with grass field


The history of Rugby School dates back over 450 years. Rugby School UK was founded in 1567 by Lawrence Sheriff, purveyor of spices to Queen Elizabeth I, as a Free Grammar School for the boys of Rugby School and Brownsover, in Warwickshire. It developed exponentially under a series of skilled headmasters.

By 1667, the school was acquiring a name for scholarship. Boys from as far as Cheshire, Kent and Somerset started joining Rugby School UK. In the late 1700s, the number of students reached a new high at 245. In 1750, it moved from the middle of town into an extensive, serene manor house — Rugby School’s present School House.

In 1823 William Webb Ellis, a Rugby student with a fine disregard for rules, picked up the ball during a football match and ran with it, thus creating the 'rugby' style of play; now a world-famous sport.

Between 1828 and 1842, Rugby School transformed greatly under the supervision of Headmaster Dr Thomas Arnold. He put emphasis on subjects that were, to him, a preparation for power. Arnold treated his senior students as gentlemen, instilling a sense of power and duty. He encouraged the young adults to share with him the responsibility for moral tone and discipline. His mantra was ‘First religious and moral principle, second gentlemanly conduct, third academic ability’. Arnold expected masters to teach as well as supervise. It was during these years that the school’s exceptional pastoral care began.

Apart from the progress Arnold contributed to the students of Rugby School UK, he was also a great mentor to his assistant masters. Many of them going on to become headmasters of other public schools in the UK.

Towards the end of the 20th Century, Rugby School UK became thoroughly co-educational. Today, it welcomes boys and girls from all over the country and overseas.

Today, Rugby School remains committed to nurturing the whole person who will thrive amidst modern-day challenges. The School environment is forward-looking and innovative, and uses interactive learning resources. At the same time, children and their parents continue to choose Rugby School for its old-fashioned house-dining and playing for the house. Students talk about belonging to a large, warm extended family and about being a part of a long and impressive history.

Rugby School crest on top of the queen gate at Rugby School UK
Group of men play rugby at the rugby field Rugby School UK
A cloister at Rugby School UK
A close up of the William Webb Ellis statue in Rugby UK
A marble plaque about William Webb Ellis
People are praying in the church Rugby School UK
Old drawing of Rugby Players lining on the field
A Band play instrument on the stage at Rugby School UK
A Chapel of Rugby School UK
Inscription on the wall about William Webb Ellis and the shadow of 2 men tossing the rugby ball on that wall
Group of people walking along the field walkway at Rugby School UK

In 1823 William Webb Ellis, a Rugby School student with a fine disregard for rules, picked up the ball during a football match and ran with it, thus creating 'rugby'.