According to the most likely story, the game of rugby originated with the actions of a renegade schoolboy playing football (soccer) at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, in 1823.
To the dumbfounded amazement of onlookers, a frustrated student on a badly losing team picked up the ball and ran for the goal.
Of course, he was heavily penalized on the field and forced to write a letter of apology afterward.
However, the idea of a game in which players kick or run with the ball was inspired by this simple act of defiance, and “Rugby-style football” eventually became just “rugby.”
A historical marker at Rugby School reads:
This stone commemorates the exploit of William Webb Ellis, who, with a fine disregard for the rules of football, as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game.