Sports are incredibly popular around the world. They transcend traditional barriers like language and bring people together and allow them to communicate in a very different way. Depending where you are in the world, the sports that are most popular to you and your friends or family may differ to that of someone else on the other side of the planet, but it could also be the exact same. So it raises a couple of questions; how did these sports spread and where did they originate from?

Well, we’re not going to answer the first question there, but we are going to look at the second one. You may be surprised to know that the UK was the original home to some of the world’s most popular sports. And you may even be shocked by some of the sports that have origins in the British Isles which are covered on our list. I know that we were when we found some of this information out.

In total we managed to find seven popular sports that are played or watched around the globe that all originate from the UK. And we’re going to take a little look at them now in alphabetical order.

7 sports invented in the UK


There are many different forms of cricket nowadays that have been introduced like T20, designed to create shorter and quicker games that encourage teams to play more aggressively. However, many still enjoy the traditional test cricket series where multiple games are played over a series of weeks, with each individual test taking up to a few days to complete.

It’s a game that all home nations do have teams for, although it is only England that is deemed to have a competitive side despite impressive performances from Ireland and Scotland in recent years. With the sport being so popular in England and their teams performing pretty well at it too with the England Men winning the recent T20 World Cup, it may not surprise you that the sports’ roots lay there too.

The earliest mention of the sport appears not in a history book or a rule book about the sport, but in a piece of court evidence given in Guildford in 1597. It wasn’t until the late 1800s though that the first record of an international match. A surprising fact about cricket that you may not know, is that despite it being a male dominated sport, the Women’s Cricket World Cup which launched in 1973 actually pre-dates the Men’s tournament by two years..

An old sketch of people playing cricket, one of the most popular sports that originates from the UK


This game may not be the most popular on our list, but it is one that people enjoy watching, especially when the Winter Olympics roll around (it first became a winter event in 1998). Its origins lie in Scotland, which makes sense considering it is known for its cold winters.

The earliest record of the sport being played is believed to date back as far as 1511. This was discovered when a curling stone was found drained in a pond in Dunblane which had the date inscribed on it. When people left the UK for the Americas to live a better life, many people settled in what we now call Canada and the sport of curling was taken with them where it has grown in popularity ever since.


Who doesn’t love a good excuse to pop down your local pub, and what better excuse that going to play a game or two of darts with your mates. The aim of the game is to throw sharp objects at a board, scoring certain points depending on where it lands on the bard. Kind of like a mini-archery without the need for a bow. And that is where its origins are believed to lie when British soldiers created a similar game.

Over the years this game would develop and become played, as mentioned, in public houses. The standard dart board that we all know today is believed to have first been created in 1896 by a carpenter who went by the name of Brian Gamlin. We wonder if he ever envisioned his creation of the classic dartboard going on to be as successful as it has been.


We’ve all heard the chants of “Football’s coming home” by England fans at every major international tournament they’ve been knocked out of in recent years. So it will be no surprise to see that football arrives on our list of the sports that first appeared in the UK. There are many similar games that have been played around the world by all different races and cultures, but ultimately, it was in England where football was born. Although Scotland is believed to have made the game professional first.

It’s a game that dates back in some form or another to as early as 1314 when it was attempted to ban the game from being played. Between then and 1667 more than 30 such laws were attempted to ban the game, but as we can see today, the beautiful game won. Although with all the money involved, you could argue the game has become quite ugly in recent years.

One of the world's most popular sports - An old photo of football being played in front of a crowd


Golf is a popular sport around the world, but its origins are believed to be in Scotland with the Old Course at St Andrews believed to have been in operation since 1574, with the standard 18 hole course introduced in 1764. Although it is believed to be even older with similar games being described as far back as Roman times. So who knows, maybe they brought the idea over, the Celts copied it and developed it into what we know as golf today up in Scotland.

Rounders / Baseball

Probably the most shocking sport to be included on this list is baseball, which the Brits fondly know as a very similar game called rounders. We’ve all played it in school when we were younger, hitting a small ball with a wooden stick and then running in a diamond shape. It’s a game that is believed to have been played as far back as Tudor times. Although the earliest reference of the sport was in 1744 in a book where it was referred to as “base-ball”.


Similar versions of this game can be traced back to the likes of Ancient Greek and Roman times, but with influence from the UK, the game would eventually develop into a new game known as Rugby. There is a funny story about how it came to be in which during a football game, a man picked the ball up and ran off with it, with opposition players then taking pursuit after him. And as nice as that story would be, there is nothing solid to back it up.

Rugby union was the first variation of the game to launch, with the first international match being played between England and Scotland in 1871. But in an effort to try and create a different style for the game which some believe to be quicker, rugby league was introduced over 20 years later in 1895 when there were disagreements about the way that rugby should be played and the association for rugby union split.

An old photo of a lineout in a rugby game, one of the most popular sports that originates from the UK

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