Sports in Britain


Introduction_ 2

Sports in Britain_ 3

Athletics 3

Football 4

Rugby_ 6

Cricket 8

Tennis 10

Golf 11

Horseracing 12

British motorsport 13

Other sports 16

Conclusion_ 17

Literature 18


There were no national sport in Great Britain in the early eighteen century. That time sports were closely linked to church festivities. Traditional games include ninepins quoits leaping coursing horse-racing; animal (bull bear) baiting and cock fighting. Boxing cudgelling wrestling and pugilism were most popular individual sports. Rowing (especially on the Thames and Tyne) was the most popular spectacle sport. Cricket the oldest team-sport to have survived became the first game allowing the members of aristocracy not to ride a horse when playing.

Nowadays there are quite a number of sports which are said to have been invented in Britain. For example cricket soccer rugby tennis squash table tennis badminton canoeing and snooker.

Even the first rules for sports such as boxing golf hockey yachting and horse-racing all originated from Britain.

Now if you were British the sports you would prefer to take part in and not watch would be angling snooker and darts. Let's just have a look at a few types of sports.

Sports in Britain


Athletics is probably the oldest sport of all and certainly the first to be staged on an organized basis dating back to the ancient Games in Olympia Greece which were first held in 776BC. The first recorded evidence of it in Britain can be traced to 1154 when practice fields were established in London. It was certainly promoted in the early 16th century by King Henry Vlll who was reputed to be an accomplished hammer thrower.

The modern sport developed early in the 19th century. Organized foot races for amateurs were held in England as early as 1825 while the first national championships were staged in 1866 by the Amateur Athletic Club which became the Amateur Athletics Association in 1880.

The modern Olympics first held in Athens in 1896 was the cue for the sport to grow massively in popularity and take on an international flavour. Britain won only one track and field medal in those games – a silver for Grantley Goulding in the 110m hurdles but did rather better four years later in Paris with four gold medals in the 800m 1500m 5000m and steeplechase.

The 1924 Games also held in Paris were another triumph for British athletics. Harold Abrahams won the 100m and former Scottish rugby international Eric Liddell took bronze in the 200m. Liddell had also been due to run in the 100m but the qualifying rounds were held on a Sunday and his religious convictions prevented him from taking part. He switched to the 400m instead and won the gold medal in a world record time. The exploits of these two runners were the subject of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire made in 1981.

Another legendary name in British athletics is that of Roger Bannister. On 6 May 1954 at the Oxford University track this 25‑year-old medical student became the first man to break four minutes for the mile a barrier that many experts had considered insurmountable. The two men who paced him that day were Chris Chataway later to become a Member of Parliament and Chris Brasher who won the 3000m steeplechase at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and instigated the London Marathon first held in 1981.

British women started to achieve notable success in athletics during the 1960s. At the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 there were gold medals for Ann Packer in the 800m and Mary Rand in the long jump. At Munich in 1972 Mary Peters of Northern Ireland became the world’s top all-round woman athlete by winning the pentathlon – and now has an athletics stadium named after her in her home country. More recently hurdler Sally Gunnell and long-distance runner Liz McColgan from Scotland established themselves as the best competitors in their events.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were a golden age for British athletics. The intense rivalry between middle distance runners Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe both Olympic champions and world record holders stole most of the headlines but the Scottish sprinter Alan Wells and decathlete Daley Thompson also achieved success at the highest level. In their tracks have followed other world beaters such as runners Linford Christie and Roger Black hurdler Colin Jackson middle distance runner Steve Cram and javelin-thrower Steve Backley.

The 2005 Sydney Olympics was also a triumph for British athletics – a team total of 11 gold medals included top results from Heptathlon competitor Denise Lewis and triple jump winner Jonathan Edwards.

2007 saw Manchester in the North of England host the most successful Commonwealth Games yet.


Football – is a game which is played in two teams each consisting of 11 players. A round ball is kicked up and down the playing field and each team tries to kick the ball into the other team's goal.

Football is a way of life in Britain – millions of supporters follow their teams around the country and by visiting one of the many football venues in Britain you too can share the passion.

Football in England can be traced back to the 12th century as a ball game played on Shrove Tuesday in Ashbourne Derbyshire. The purpose of the game was for town locals to gain possession of the ball and return it to a specific town or parish.

Towards the end of the 15th century Henry VII tried to ban the playing of football in England. Whether it was because he wanted to encourage the country’s young men to practice their archery or simply reduce the mayhem and conspicuous alcoholic consumption that went alongside these great brawling encounters is still a matter for historical debate. But nothing could stop the people of Britain from playing their game.

By the mid‑19th century football began to take the more civilized shape we know today. In 1846 the private schools universally adopted the ‘Cambridge rules’ and in 1863 the Football Association was formed. By the end of the 19th century football was big business in Britain with a professional league of two divisions in England and Wales a separate league in Scotland cup competitions in all three countries and an audience of millions.

In 1910 West Auckland an amateur team of miners from Durham in the north-east of England played in the first ever ‘World Cup’ a cobbled-together competition that pre-dated the official World Cup by 20 years. They won it beating the professionals of Italy’s Juventus in the final. But the British were slow to follow up that success not entering the World Cup until 1950 and equally slow to join in the European competitions.

Britain’s ‘splendid isolation’ meant it was left behind the world game when it did enter the major competitions but it soon caught up. In 1966 England hosted the World Cup finals and won beating West Germany 4–2 in extra time. The following year the Scottish club Glasgow Celtic won the European Cup and their success was repeated in 1968 by Manchester United which included Bobby Charlton and George Best.

English clubs dominated European football during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Liverpool won the European Cup four times between 1977 and 1984 and in the intervening years Nottingham Forest won it twice and Aston Villa once. But the nation then had to wait until Manchester United’s injury-time triumph over Bayern Munich in 2004 for the trophy to return to England.

British football has a reputation for being the most entertaining in the world. It's a mix of pace and passion combined with the skill and technique which has been enhanced since a major cash injection from television companies has enabled clubs to attract many of the world's greatest players to the UK. During the 2004/2005 season the London club Chelsea fielded a team that included players from Italy France Spain Norway Romania Nigeria Brazil and Uruguay – and even the club manager was Italian.

The introduction of so many foreign players to British football has done nothing to reduce the intensity of local rivalries. The ‘Old Firm’ games in Scotland between the great clubs of Glasgow Celtic and Rangers are perhaps the most fiercely contested occasions though they are run close by the local derbies between Liverpool and Everton Manchester United and Manchester City and north London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

In the season 2007/2008 Manchester United have won the Premiership title in England.


Rugby got its name from the English public school Rugby where over a century ago a boy picked up a soccer ball and ran with it. To us it seems like a combination of handball and football. It is also quite a violent sport and it is not uncommon for players to lose teeth in the course a season.

Rugby is the national sport of Wales and international championships are arranged between England Scotland Wales Ireland and France.

Rugby – a form of football which is played with an oval ball and can be carried or kicked. It is played in two teams each consisting of 13 or 15 players depending on whether they are playing «Rugby League» or «Rugby Union». The aim of the game is to try to put the ball over the other team's line.

Rugby and football became two separate sports when the Football Association said only the goalkeeper was allowed to hold the ball.

Legend says the game was born in 1823 during a football match at Rugby School. Instead of kicking the ball an enterprising 16‑year-old named William Webb Ellis picked it up and ran with it diving over the other team’s line to claim a goal. A plaque at Rugby School commemorates Ellis’s achievement.

There were no widely recognized ‘rules’ for football during the 1820s but by the 1840s the game was evolving in two separate directions; one where the ball was controlled predominantly by the feet and the other pioneered at Rugby School where it was kept in the hand. The game’s first rules were published at Rugby in 1846; one of which stated that it was ‘unfair to hack and hold at the same time’ which gives some idea of how uncompromising a sport it was.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) was established in 1871 to form a universal set of laws that also removed some of the more violent aspects of the Rugby School game. The 21 clubs that attended the first meeting included Harlequins Blackheath and Richmond still among Britain’s top rugby-playing clubs today. One famous name that was missing though was the London club Wasps. Somehow they managed to send their representative to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day.

Rugby’s first international was also played that year in March at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh between Scotland and England. The Scots won but England got their revenge in the return fixture the following year at the Oval.

The rules have changed a great deal since 1871 and spawned other games notably American Football and Australian Rules Football. In 1895 rugby itself split into two codes when 20 clubs from northern England formed Rugby League a professional version of the Rugby Union game. Rugby Union would remain an amateur sport for another hundred years.

The heartland of Rugby League is still in northern England in Hull and Halifax Wigan and Warrington Leeds and Bradford. The most passionate devotees of Rugby Union are to be found in the valleys of south Wales the Scottish borders and the English midlands and west country. It’s a popular sport in Ireland too. Indeed it’s the only sport where the Irish are represented by one united team.


Cricket is a ball game played by two teams of eleven players. It is played on a pitch with a wicket (a kind of goal) at each end. Each team bats (takes its innings) in turn. The object of the batting side is to make runs while the bowling and the fielding side tries to dismiss the batsmen. The winning team is the one that scores most runs.

The spectators must be a patient lot. So-called test matches last for three or five days.

Cricket is a summer game in England and Wales. However it has become very popular throughout the Commonwealth in places like Australia the West Indies India Pakistan Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Cricket – a very famous and absolutely English game! The first form of cricket was played 250 years ago.

The rules are very complicated but it is a game which is played on a field with 11 players in each team. The aim of the game is to score as many «runs» (which are points) by hitting a hard leather-covered ball with a wooden bat and running between two sets of upright wooden sticks which are called «stumps». At the same time the other team tries to throw the players out by bowling them out catching them out or running them out.

A game of cricket can last all afternoon if it is played on the village green. However at international level it can last 5 days.

Cricket began in south-east England with shepherds bowling balls of wool at gates called bails. Records show Edward II wielding a bat and even Cromwell was partial to a game.

One of the earliest clubs was formed at Hambledon Hampshire in the 1760s but modern cricket really began to develop in London with the formation of the Marylebone Cricket Club or MCC in 1787. The following year members of the club drew up a set of rules which have survived largely unchanged to the present day.

The MCC asked Thomas Lord to find them a ground and the club finally settled on the site of a former duck pond. Lord’s as the ground came to be known is still the home ground for the MCC and is widely acknowledged as the home of cricket.

County cricket developed as the game caught on outside London with one of the first county matches being played between Middlesex and Essex in 1787. Eight counties were finally organized into a championship in 1890 with 18 now playing for today’s County Championship the oldest domestic competition in English cricket at some of the most picturesque venues in the world.

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