Traditions and Ethos
The Rugby Attitude
Rugby has in the past famously been referred to as "A hooligan's" game played by gentlemen" while soccer is "a gentleman's game played by hooligans". This comment particularly refers to the traditional differences in attitudes between rugby and soccer in Britain. Rugby's roots are deeply tied to the ethos of sportsmanship that was cultivated in the private schools in England in the 1800s. These schools were set up to mold young men of the aristocracy into gentlemen and to be ethical leaders of the empire and where fair play and sportsmanship was inculcated into all their activities. This attitude has prevailed in rugby circles to this day and the game's extraordinarily high standards of sportsmanship, discipline, camaraderie and valor survive and thrive.
At international rugby matches spectators and fans do not need to be separated by barriers into sections to keep them apart as is done in soccer. Rugby passion at matches is no less than for those attending soccer matches but the actions and behaviors of the spectators is what differentiates the rugby crowd from the soccer crowd. A result of all this is that Rugby's traditional ethos of sportsmanship and camaraderie, respecting opponents and officials, and eschewing taunting, trash talking or preening are aspects that differentiates this great sport. Rugby players play against opponents, not enemiesand cultivate friendships across boundaries.
Rugby's ties to the Olympic movement
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, had close connections with Rugby – the school and the game.
He grew to admire English education, differentiating it from French education at the time by emphasizing moral values and competition in sports and producing young men who could run an empire.
Rugby School became his inspiration, and all of this led to the formation of the modern Olympic Games and the spirit which De Coubertin hoped to inculcate.
De Coubertin's investigations at Rugby School, drew from him an unfavorable comparison with French education of the time. But it was not just Rugby as a school but rugby as a game that interested him, and the character, ethos and traditions of those who played it.
When the French were uninterested in educational reform along the lines of that found at Rugby school , De Coubertin, the secretary general of France's sports union, turned to the Olympic idea.
In 1892 he first revealed his plans for a modern Olympics. In 1894 he arranged an international congress which agreed to the restoration of the game and the formation of an International Olympic Committee.
The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens in 1896 - and they were a great success.
De Coubertin became president of the IOC in 1900, and got rugby involved in the Paris Olympics in 1900. Three teams took part – France, Germany and Great Britain.
Rugby was at the games again in London in 1908 with Great Britain and the touring Wallabies taking part, and in 1920 when the USA and France were rugby's representatives and again in 1924 when the USA, France and Romania took part. The USA won both of the tournaments they participated in and are the current gold medal holders!
Rugby was dropped for the 1928 Olympics to make more room for women's participation.
Moves to get rugby back into the Olympics have been ongoing and finally success has been realized with the Sevens format being introduced into the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.