By Eric Shackle*
**Eric Shackle has posted an "ON-LINE" book containing
various bits of information. Read his pages HERE.
Historic Rugby is one of America's most intriguing historic sites. It operates
within the tiny village of Rugby,
a living community. More than 65,000 visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries are welcomed to
Historic Rugby annually for guided tours, workshops, special events and overnight lodging in restored historic
- Historic Tennessee website, <http://www.historicrugby.org>
Searching the Internet can lead you down some strange and fascinating by-ways.
The goal was to find which
of the world's 15 places named Rugby participate in "the game they play in Heaven."
A few hours' browsing disclosed (in addition to the Tennessee village)
a spine-tingling English ghost story, a
town that's proud of being the geographical centre of North America, and a place in Australia called Rugby, which
most Australians have never heard of.
famous Rugby of them all is an ancient town (pop. 85,000) in England, which
gave its name to most, if
not all the other Rugbys. The Warwickshire Tourism site says: "Visit Rugby School, birthplace of Rugby Football,
scene of Tom Brown's Schooldays, home of the poet Rupert Brooke and the school which educated Lewis Carroll,
author of Alice in Wonderland
was at Rugby School in 1823 that William Webb Ellis, a pupil at the school,
first broke the rules and picked
up the ball and ran with it. The place where it happened - Rugby School's Close - can still be seen today.
several centuries, the history of the town and the school have been intertwined.
Many famous people
have been educated at Rugby School including Thomas Hughes, whose book 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' was
based on his own schooldays."
After making a fotune from his book, which became a classic, Hughes gained
a reputation as a social reformer.
In 1880, he founded the village of Rugby, in Morgan County, Tennessee.
He envisioned it as a place where those who wished could build a strong
agricultural community through
cooperative enterprise, while maintaining a cultured, Christian lifestyle, free of the rigid class distinctions that
prevailed in Britain.
It was to be a cooperative, class-free, community for younger sons of English
gentry and others wishing to
start life anew in America. At its peak, some 350 people lived in the colony. More than 70 buildings of Victorian
design graced the East Tennessee townscape.
would-be Utopia survives today as both a living community and a fascinating
historic site, unspoiled by
modern development. Twenty original buildings still stand at the southern edge of the Big South Fork National
Park, surrounded by rugged river gorges.
Now let's get back to the other Rugbys...
from England's Rugby lie the ruined remains of Lawford Hall, where a family
ancestor who had lost an
arm during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I was known as One-Handed Boughton. After he died, his ghost was said
to have appeared from time to time, riding across the neighboring grounds in a coach-and-six (a coach drawn by
six horses), scaring the villagers out of their wits.
room in Lawford Hall which had been preserved as his bed-chamber was reputedly
haunted. No-one could
sleep in it, and none of the locals would work in it. The family finally decided to lay the ghost. The website
http://www.rugbytown.co.uk/legends/boughton.htm describes the ceremony, which, it says, took place about
clergymen were assembled, each bearing a lighted candle, all of which went
out except that held by Mr.
Hall, erstwhile Rector of Harborough Magna. He immediately laid the ghost by conjuring it into a bottle, corking it
tight and throwing it into the pond [in a clay-pit opposite the Hall].
1810 an old glass bottle was discovered in a pond near the site of Lawford
Hall. It passed into the
possession of Mr. Allesley Boughton Leigh of Brownsover Hall who was happy to allow it to be seen, but the
cork has never been drawn.
Francis Skipwith tells us that on a visit to Lawford Hall and enquiring
into the possibility of fishing in the
pool opposite he was politely deterred by Sir Edward Boughton on the grounds that he could not consent to
disturbing the spirit of his ancestor... May God have mercy on us all."
the Atlantic, Rugby, North Dakota is a town of 3000 people, 45 miles south
of the Canadian border.
Asked about his hometown, Dondi Sobolik, Interim Executive Director, Geographical Center of North America
Chamber of Commerce replied:
ND acquired its name from settlers back in the 1800's in reference to Rugby,
England. In 1986, we
celebrated our centennial with three days of parades, fireworks, community picnics, and in general, one huge
Rugby England's town crier, walked up and down the streets 'crying' the
special events taking
place. We still communicate with Andy and do a news report via the radio on happenings in Rugby England.
football is not played in this area, although many inquiries are received
from Australians and the
English about playing a game here or playing on our local team. American football is very popular. The
University of North Dakota had a Rugby football team at one time, but I'm not sure if they still play."
Down Under, most Australians have never heard of their village called
Rugby. It's in outback New South
Wales, so tiny it's not shown on most maps.
is a small farming community of 20 to 30 permanent residents, 50km from
Crookwell (100km from
Goulburn) and 32km from Boorowa," said school principal Gillian Anton. "There are only a few buildings: two
churches (one unused), a hall and the school. There was a shop until two years ago."
Do they play Rugby in Rugby? "No," she replied. "There are no sporting teams at all."
the world, Rugby football is played in more than 100 countries, encompassing
all regions, races and
peoples. One of the strangest-named teams are the Missoula Montana Maggots.
Their website <http://www.maggots.org/#maggots> says:
All-Maggots began in the fall of 1976 with a group of former students from
the University of
Montana. Faced with the harsh realities of graduation and lack of a rugby team, they formed a new 'old boys' side.
The name 'UM Old Boys' might have been adopted had it not been for the typically insensitive Canadians who
referred to the new team as 'that bunch of maggots from Montana.' Eventually, the name took hold and is today
worn with pride, as the club has become one of the top rugby teams in the northwestern United States.
uniform is basic black with white collars, a color scheme that has also
been adopted by the New
Zealand national rugby team. On the shirt is a rosetta of intertwined maggots."
* Eric Shackle is a retired
journalist who spends much of his spare time (his wife says too much) surfing
Internet and writing about it. His articles have been published by leading newspapers including the New York
Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada), the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), and the Straits Times
Copyright © 2000.
Media wishing to reprint this article should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed with permission of Eric Shackle
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