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Subbuteo Table Rugby – A Passing Phase

Bizarre scrums, nonsensical rules and frighteningly oversize kickers: if nothing else, Subbuteo Table Rugby was an enigma.

From its introduction in the 1950s until its ultimate demise in 1983, it hardly captured the popular imagination in the same way that Subbuteo Soccer did, but the game will have left a mark on anyone who ever flicked a piece of plastic at an oval ball.

The game was designed so that both Union and League matches could be played on it and initially only two different sets were made available, one with a pitch and the other without. These two sets remained in production union 1969.

After 1969, the set came in a new style box and was called the 'International Edition'.

With plastic figures on bases the rugby set now looked and played more like its soccer counterpart. However the oval ball proved very difficult to control and the ball-shaped scrum device was a random affair. The ball fell out to either side, and not necessarily to the detriment of the one who had committed the infringement.

Even though it was the company's second best selling product, how could Subbuteo Table Rugby do anything other than sink without trace? The Museum of Rugby looked back with fondness…

To find out more, click on the links below to view graphic panels from this exhibition: