type of football, 1864, from Rugby, name of the public school where the game was played, which is named for its location in the city of Rugby in Warwickshire, central England. The place name is Rocheberie (1086), probably "fortified place of a man called *Hroca;" with second element from Old English burh (dative byrig), replaced by 13c. with Old Norse -by "village" due to the influence of Danish settlers. Otherwise it might be *Rockbury today. Or first element perhaps is Old English hroc "rook."
The Rugby Union was formed in 1871. Slang rugger for "rugby" is by 1893, with -er (1).