Indeed, that's not rugby, it's Eton Wall Game, here reported in Harpers' Weekly for the American public as a strange local curiosity...
As a Frenchman, I'm very intrigued by all these old (XVIIIth century...) ball games played in English colleges... Some of them have evolved to universal sports like football and rugby as we know it, some others remain specific to the place where they're played like the "Wall game" played at Eton.
I've tried - with reasonable success - to understand the rules (here they are in pdf...) and the spirit of the game... this page on Eton website is a good start to kick into the subject... As this paper reads "[it] is exceptionally exhausting and is far more skilful than might appear to the uninitiated. The skill consists in the remorseless application of pressure and leverage as one advances inch by painful inch through a seemingly impenetrable mass of opponents"
You'll also certainly appreciate this incredible fact about scoring a goal... "The attackers can now attempt to throw a ‘goal’ which would bring them an extra nine points (the goals are a garden door at one end and a tree at the other). [...] goals are very uncommon — the last on St Andrew’s Day was in 1909." 100 years without scoring... I guess that the next one will be heavily celebrated !
It also reads that "few sports offer less to the spectator" ... which doesn't seem to prevent an impressive crowd to meet for the Game, as per this old photography (from one of my old books... but I dont remember which one to credit...)
Larger pics are available @ Flickr (top pic , bottom pic). I was also happy to find this fine movie footage on YouTube showing the Game in 1921, thanks to the efforts of British Film Institute to open and share their unvaluable archives.
Teaser : I've found incredible, astonishing, thrilling, moving - no less - movies of early rugby at the BFI... I'll share that soon... they're just unbelivable ... I mean at least for the rugby memorabilia fan...