What Sports Are Popular in the United Kingdom?

Do you know what are popular British sports? The United Kingdom is a country that is passionate about sports. There are many different sports that are popular in the UK, but some of the most popular ones are football, cricket, rugby, tennis, and athletics. The United Kingdom is known for being the birthplace of many popular sports that are played all over the world. Sports that originated in the UK are football (soccer), rugby, cricket, tennis, and golf.

Level A2/B1


Football, or soccer as it is called in some countries, is the most popular sport in the UK and it originated in England. First it was a very rude and hard game. There were no rules. Footballers have been playing with proper rules only since 1863. That year the Football Association (FA for short) was started. Its first job was to get a set of rules for all teams. The modern game was introduced to other countries by British soldiers, seamen and businessmen.

It is estimated that around 14 million people play football in the UK, and there are many professional teams that compete in leagues such as the English Premier League and the Scottish Premiership. The greatest football competition in Britain is the FA Cup. The first competition was organized in the middle of the 19th century. The greatest football competitions are held every May at the famous Wembley stadium in London.

Football is a sport that is loved by people of all ages, and it is often played in parks and fields across the country. Football has become a truly global sport.


Cricket is another popular sport in the UK, especially in England. Cricket is a sport that originated in England in the 16th century. It was originally a children’s game, but it became more popular with adults over time and eventually became a professional sport. Cricket is the second-most popular sport in the world, after soccer.

Cricket is played with two teams of 11 players each. The objective of the game is to score runs by hitting a ball with a bat and running back and forth between two sets of wickets. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

The longest recorded game of cricket lasted for 14 days in 1939. The ball used in cricket is very hard and can weigh up to 5.5 ounces (155.92 grams). A cricket pitch, the area where the game is played, is 22 yards long (approximately 20 meters).

Cricket is a sport that requires a lot of skill and patience, and matches can last for several hours or even days. The UK has a strong cricketing tradition, and the national team has won several major tournaments, including the Cricket World Cup.

Many people play cricket in Britain. Children begin to play cricket at school. Lord’s is a very popular cricket ground in London. Cricket is a part of English life.


Cricket is an English game. It is a difficult game and many people love it, but others are bored by it. Some games go on for five days. It is played in many countries which were once a part of the British Empire, but nowhere else. 

There are cricket clubs all over England. The professional cricketer has to learn many kinds of skills. He has to be an athlete, to run fast, jump and turn like a gymnast. He must be patient and must not let other players be dishonest with him. 

Above all, he has to be very brave. This is what a professional cricketer said after being hit on the head by a ball, “Cricket is hard, it hurts. It takes a special sort of person to be good at it. But we don’t want the danger to be taken out of the game.”


Rugby is a sport that was invented in England over 200 years ago. It was named after a school called Rugby School in England, where the first rules of the game were made. The first rugby game ever played was between two schools in 1823.

Rugby is played with two teams of 15 players each, or sometimes seven players each in a faster version called rugby sevens. The aim of the game is to carry the ball across the opponent’s goal line and touch it down to score points. Players can run with the ball, pass it to teammates, or kick it down the field. The rugby ball is oval. Rugby players run an average of 7-9 miles per game and tackle each other with full force.

Rugby is a sport that values sportsmanship and respect, and players are expected to shake hands and exchange jerseys after the game, regardless of who won.


Polo is a sport that originated in ancient Persia, where it was played as a military training exercise. The modern version of the sport was developed in India in the 19th century and was later adopted by the British, who helped spread the sport around the world.

Polo is played on horseback with two teams of four players each. The objective of the game is to score goals by hitting a small ball with a long-handled mallet and sending it between the opponent’s goalposts. Players must use their mallets to hit the ball while riding their horses, and they must also defend their own goalposts and try to steal the ball from their opponents.

Polo is sometimes called the “sport of kings” because it was historically played by royalty and wealthy elites. The oldest polo club in the world is the Calcutta Polo Club in India, which was founded in 1862. Polo ponies, the horses used in polo, are not actually ponies – they are full-sized horses that are trained for the sport. The highest recorded speed of a polo ball is 150 miles per hour!


Tennis is a sport that is enjoyed by many people in the UK, especially during the summer months when major tournaments such as Wimbledon are held. Tennis originated in England in the 19th century. It is a sport that requires skill and precision, and it is often played on grass or clay courts. The game involves hitting a ball over a net and into the opponent’s court, with the objective of making it difficult for the opponent to return the ball. Tennis is a sport that has a rich history in the UK, and the country has produced many great players over the years, including Fred Perry, Virginia Wade, and Andy Murray.


Athletics is a sport that includes many different events, such as running, jumping, and throwing. It is a sport that requires strength, speed, and endurance, and it is often enjoyed by people of all ages. The UK has a strong athletics tradition, and the country has produced many great athletes over the years, including Sebastian Coe, Mo Farah, and Jessica Ennis-Hill.


Golf is a sport that was developed in Scotland in the 15th century. The game involves hitting a ball with a club into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible. Golf is played all over the world and is especially popular in countries such as the United States, Scotland, and Ireland.

In addition to these sports, there are many other sports that are popular in the UK, including golf, swimming, boxing, and cycling. The UK is a country that loves sports, and it is home to many world-class athletes and teams. Whether it’s playing sports in the park or cheering on a favorite team, sports are an important part of life in the UK.


Badminton is a sport that originated in India and was popularized in England in the 19th century. The game involves hitting a shuttlecock over a net and into the opponent’s court, with the objective of making it difficult for the opponent to return the shuttlecock. Badminton is played all over the world and is especially popular in countries such as China, Indonesia, and Denmark.


Swimming is not a sport that originated in the United Kingdom, but it has a long and rich history in the country. Swimming as a competitive sport became popular in the UK during the 19th century, and many swimming clubs were formed during this time. The first swimming championship was held in the UK in 1869, and swimming has been a popular sport in the country ever since.

One of the most famous swimming events in the UK is the annual Oxford vs. Cambridge swimming race, which has been held since 1873. The race takes place in the River Thames, and swimmers from both universities compete in a 100-yard freestyle race.

Swimming is a sport that is enjoyed by people of all ages in the UK, from competitive swimmers to those who simply enjoy swimming for leisure. The country has many public swimming pools and outdoor swimming areas.

Some of the swimming styles that are used today were developed in the UK. These include the breaststroke and the front crawl also known as the freestyle.

The UK has also been a leader in developing new swimming technology and equipment. For example, the first swim goggles were invented in the UK in the early 20th century, and they have since become an essential piece of swimming equipment for many swimmers. The first waterproof stopwatch was invented in the UK in the 1920s, which revolutionized the way swimming races were timed and recorded.

Speak about Some Popular British Sports and Games

  1. The English are the great lovers of sports.
  2. The first three sports that will come to every Englishman’s mind are football, cricket and tennis.
  3. Golf and horse-riding, boating and rugby are also very popular.
  4. Britain invented and developed many of the sports and games which are now played in different countries.
  5. The most popular sport, football or soccer, is spread all over the world.
  6. There are several national football teams in Britain, which compete with each other every year.
  7. The two best teams play in the Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London.
  8. It is the most important football match of the year.
  9. National British teams take part in European competitions and other international matches.
  10. Tennis, or lawn tennis, is another popular sport game in Britain.
  11. It was first played in England in 1872.
  12. The international lawn tennis championship is held at Wimbledon near London every summer in June.
  13. Boxing as a British sport is one of the oldest.
  14. It existed even in Saxon times.
  15. Swimming, boating and sailing are enjoyed by millions of people.
  16. Skiing and skating are not so popular because there is not much snow in Britain in winter.

Some Other Popular British Sports 

  • Racing of all kinds is very popular in England: run races, horse racing, motor car racing, boat racing, dog racing and even races for donkeys. There are funny races, for example the “three-legged” race, “the egg-and-spoon” race, the pancake race. The people who watch such races love them very much.
  • The people of Great Britain are very fond of horses and horse races are very popular in the country. The horse racing season begins at the end of March. It seems that the whole of Britain comes to Derby, the most popular national race. It was organized by Lord Derby and was named in honour of him.
  • The most popular sporting event of the British spring is London Marathon, which attracts some 25,000 participants and several thousand more spectators. The run passes many of London historic places from the old times to the present day. The funny bear adds more fun to the great race.
  • Scottish Highland Games, at which sports (including tossing the caber, putting the weight and throwing the hammer), dancing and piping competitions take place, attract large numbers of spectators from all over the world. These meetings are held every year in different places in the Scottish Highlands.

Popular British Sports. Grammar Practice

Task 1. Use the clues below and write the history of rugby, one of the most popular British sports. Use the Past Simple Passive form.

Example: In 1823 / rugby / start / in Britain – Rugby was started in Britain in 1823.

  1. In 1830s / rugby / play / all over Britain
  2. In 1845 / first set of rules / introduce
  3. In 1893 / the proper rules / take
  4. The first national championships / hold / a hundred years ago
  5. The standard game (Rugby Union) / play / by teams of 15
  6. 400 rugby clubs / organize / in Britain
  7. Rugby League / play / by teams of 13

Task 2. Put the verbs in brackets into the past passive form.

  1. The ‘Dynamo’ Club (to organize) __________________ in 1923.
  2. Ice dancing (to introduce) ____________________ to the Olympic programme in 1976.
  3. National championships in volleyball (to hold) ________________ in 1933 for the first time.
  4. Peter Pan Cup (to present) ___________________ to the winner of the hundred yards Christmas Swimming Race.
  5. Audience (to please) ________________ with the gymnast’s style and charm.
  6. The game (to lose) ________________ hopelessly.

Task 3. Change the sentences into passive structures.

Example: People played tennis a thousand years ago. – Tennis was played a thousand years ago by people.

  1. They held running competitions in ancient times.
  2. They ran the first London Marathon in 1981.
  3. They organized the first professional golf contest – the Ryder Cup – in 1927.
  4. They introduced the first Goodwill Games in 1984.
  5. They started Tour de France cycling race in 1926.
  6. They held the games in Olympia in 1453 B.C.
  7. They organized the games every fourth year beginning with 776 B.C.
  8. They called the four-year cycles the Olympiadas.

Task 4. Put the wh-questions to the following sentences.

  1. Running competitions were held in ancient Greece for the first time. – Where …?
  2. A gold medal was won by British cyclist Chris Boardman. – Who …?
  3. His bike was designed by Lotus Engineering. – What country …?
  4. Chris Boardman was supported by his fans. – Who …?
  5. The European Cup was won by Manchester United Football Club four times. – How many times …?
  6. Bryan Robson was elected to be a captain of Liverpool Football Club for many years. – How long …?
  7. The gold medal was won by an American, Doris Kennedy, in the women’s 200 meter freestyle competition. – What …?
  8. The best result in gymnastics was shown by Olha Ulyanchenko. – What sport …?
  9. A new world’s record was done in the high jump event in Athens. – Where …?
  10. Two bowling leagues were formed by Boston University students. – How many …?
  11. Golf was not played yesterday because of the bad weather. – Why …?