British English; Colloquial abbreviation for Rugby football (1886). Compare contemporary soccer, from Association football. Both words seem to have originated at the University of Oxford during the 1880s.
- (uncountable) rugby
1886 November 10, A. Macaulay, “The Advance of Science”, in The Oxford Magazine, page 356:
- That . . . . . . may for once put a full Rugger team in the field
1888 February 15, “Charley Symonds”, in The Oxford Magazine, page 224:
- Golf is perhaps seven or eight years old in Oxford, ... football, seu Rugger, sive Soccer, not more than sixteen or seventeen.
1890, Albert Barrère and Charles Leland, A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant, volume 2, Ballantyne, page 191:
- Rugger (schools), the Rugby game at football
- (US) a person who plays rugby
1974 August, Paul Burka, “The Sport of Rough Gentlemen”, in Texas Monthly, volume 2, number 8, page 42:
- To this day ruggers belittle soccer, and they will tell anyone who expresses the slightest interest in their game that rugby is "a ruffian's game played by gentlemen," while soccer is "a gentleman's game played by ruffians."
1977 Apr, Robert McKay, “My Heart's In Highlands, A Chasing The Ruggers”, in Cincinnati Magazine, volume 10, number 7, page 80:
- When you put sixty ruggers and their friends and lovers in a bar, you've really got something going.
1996 December 16, Shannon Black, “Rugby: Aliens 3, Locals 0”, in New York Magazine, volume 29, number 49, page 22:
- Some of the world's most talented ruggers had come to New York for the weekend to play for fun. "What's football — just an Americanization of rugby," exclaimed one fan at the 38th Annual New York Sevens Tournament. … Brian Corcoran, who in 1990 played for Team USA for free, distinguished ruggers from "the spoiled, arrogant professionals you're dealing with in other sports."
2011 June 8, “Club sports: Touring British Army ruggers welcomed”, in Santa Monica Daily Press:
- After the game, the teams adjourned to the Dolphins’ usual after-match location, O’Brien’s Irish Pub on Main Street, where they enjoyed a spirited social together: songs were sung, speeches and presentations were made, and mutual admiration was expressed, particularly toward the soldier-ruggers of the 7th for their sacrifice and dedication.
- (sport): football