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Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a close-contact
team sport A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing sports team, teams which compete to win or cooperate to entertain their audience. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a numb ...
that originated at
Rugby School Rugby School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free ...
in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th ...
, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is played between two teams of 15 players each, using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field called a pitch. The field has H-shaped goalposts at both ends. Rugby union is a popular sport around the world, played by people of all genders, ages and sizes. In 2014, there were more than 6 million people playing worldwide, of whom 2.36 million were registered players.
World Rugby World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th centu ...
, previously called the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) and the International Rugby Board (IRB), has been the governing body for rugby union since 1886, and currently has 101 countries as full members and 18 associate members. In 1845, the first laws were written by students attending Rugby School; other significant events in the early development of rugby include the decision by Blackheath F.C. to leave
The Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the Sports governing body, governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the ...
in 1863 and, in 1895, the
split Split(s) or The Split may refer to: Places * Split, Croatia, the largest coastal city in Croatia * Split Island, Canada, an island in the Hudson Bay * Split Island, Falkland Islands * Split Island, Fiji, better known as Hạfliua Arts, entertain ...
between rugby union and
rugby league Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league and sometimes football, footy, rugby or league, is a contact sport, full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular Rugby league playing field, field measur ...
. Historically rugby union was an amateur sport, but in 1995 formal restrictions on payments to players were removed, making the game openly professional at the highest level for the first time. Rugby union spread from the
Home Nations Home Nations is a collective term with one of two meanings depending on context. Politically it means the nations of the countries of the United Kingdom, constituent countries of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and W ...
of
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of is ...
and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
, with other early exponents of the sport including
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
and
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
. The sport is followed primarily in the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ...
, France, Georgia,
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,
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the African continent, south of Congo Basin, the Congo and Tanzania. The physical location is the large part of Africa to the south of the extensive Congo River basin. Southern Africa is home to ...
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
, and to a lesser extent
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
,
Uruguay Uruguay (; ), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; while bordering ...
, the
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,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
, and
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
, its growth occurring during the expansion of the British Empire and through French proponents (
Rugby Europe Rugby Europe is the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. It was formed in 1999 to promote, develop, organise, and administer the game of rugby in Europe under the authority of World Rugby (the sport's global governing body). However, it ...
) in Europe. Countries that have adopted rugby union as their ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, whether or not they are officially recognized by laws or other formal norms. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with '' de jure'' ("by l ...
''
national sport A national sport is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation. Some sports are ''de facto'' (not established by law) national sports, as sumo is in Japan and Gaelic games are in Republic of Ireland, Ireland and field hockey in ...
include
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
, Georgia,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
, New Zealand,
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,
Tonga Tonga (, ; ), officially the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia, Polynesian country and archipelago. The country has List of islands and towns in Tonga, 171 islands – of which 45 are inhabited. Its tota ...
, and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
. International matches have taken place since 1871 when the first game was played between Scotland and England at
Raeburn Place Raeburn Place is the main street of the suburb of Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, and the name of the playing fields there. Rugby 1871 England versus Scotland rugby union match, The first ever international rugby fo ...
in Edinburgh. The
Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's international governing body. The winners are awarded the Webb E ...
, first held in 1987, is held every four years. The
Six Nations Championship The Six Nations Championship (known as the Guinness Six Nations for sponsorship reasons) is an annual international men's rugby union competition between the teams of England national rugby union team, England, France national rugby union team, ...
in Europe and
The Rugby Championship The Rugby Championship is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina national rugby union team, Argentina, Australia national rugby union team, Australia, New Zealand national rugby union team, New Zealand, and Sou ...
in the Southern Hemisphere are other important international competitions that are held annually. National club and provincial competitions include the Premiership in England, the
Top 14 The Top 14 () is a professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who works in a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the professio ...
in France, the Bunnings NPC in New Zealand, the
League One The English Football League One (often referred to as League One for short or Sky Bet League One for sponsorship purposes, and known as the Football League One from 2004 until 2016) is the second-highest division of the English Football Leag ...
in Japan and the
Currie Cup The Currie Cup is South Africa's premier domestic rugby union competition, played each winter and spring (June to October), featuring teams representing either entire provinces or substantial regions within provinces. Although it is the premier ...
in South Africa. Other transnational club competitions include the
United Rugby Championship The United Rugby Championship (URC) is an annual rugby union competition involving professional teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales. The current name was adopted in 2021 when the league expanded to include four South Afr ...
of club teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales,
European Rugby Champions Cup The European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is an annual rugby union tournament organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR). It is the top-tier competition for clubs who compete in a pre ...
in Europe, and Super Rugby Pacific in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.


History

Rugby football stems from the form of the game played at
Rugby School Rugby School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free ...
, which former pupils then introduced to their universities. Former Rugby School student Albert Pell is credited with having formed the first "football" team while a student at
Cambridge University The University of Cambridge is a Public university, public collegiate university, collegiate research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III of England, Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the world' ...
. Major private schools each used different rules during this early period, with former pupils from Rugby and Eton attempting to carry their preferred rules through to their universities. A significant event in the early development of rugby football was the production of a written set of rules at Rugby School in 1845, followed by the Cambridge Rules that were drawn up in 1848. Formed in 1863, the national governing body
The Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the Sports governing body, governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the ...
(FA) began codifying a set of universal football rules. These new rules specifically banned players from running with the ball in hand and also disallowed hacking (kicking players in the shins), both of which were legal and common tactics under the Rugby School's rules of the sport. In protest at the imposition of the new rules, the Blackheath Club left the FA followed by several other clubs that also favoured the "Rugby Rules". Although these clubs decided to ban hacking soon afterwards, the split was permanent, and the FA's codified rules became known as "
association football Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 Football player, players who primarily use their feet to propel the Ball (association football), ball around a rectangular field ca ...
" whilst the clubs that had favoured the Rugby Rules formed the
Rugby Football Union The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the Sports governing body, national governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871, and was the sport's international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby ...
in 1871, and their code became known as "
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th ...
". In 1895, there was a major schism within rugby football in England in which numerous clubs from Northern England resigned from the RFU over the issue of reimbursing players for time lost from their workplaces. The split highlighted the social and class divisions in the sport in England. Although the rules of the game were not a factor in the split, the breakaway teams subsequently adopted some rule changes and this became the separate code of "
rugby league Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league and sometimes football, footy, rugby or league, is a contact sport, full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular Rugby league playing field, field measur ...
". The RFU's code thereafter took on the name "rugby union" to differentiate it from rugby league, but both versions of the sport are known simply as "rugby" throughout most of the world.


First internationals

The first rugby football international was played on 27 March 1871 between
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
and
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
in
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
. Scotland won the game 1–0. By 1881 both
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
had representative teams and in 1883 the first international competition, the Home Nations Championship had begun. 1883 is also the year of the first rugby sevens tournament, the Melrose Sevens, which is still held annually. Two important overseas tours took place in 1888: a
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ...
team visited Australia and New Zealand—although a private venture, it laid the foundations for future
British and Irish Lions The British & Irish Lions is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for the national teams of England national rugby union team, England, Ireland national rugby union team, Ireland, Scotland national rugby union team, Scotland, and ...
tours; and the
1888–89 New Zealand Native football team The 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team was a New Zealand rugby union team that toured Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in 1888 and 1889. It mostly comprised players of Māori people, Māori ancestry, but also included some P ...
brought the first overseas team to British spectators. During the early history of rugby union, a time before commercial air travel, teams from different continents rarely met. The first two notable tours both took place in 1888the British Isles team touring New Zealand and Australia, followed by the New Zealand team touring Europe. Traditionally the most prestigious tours were the Southern Hemisphere countries of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa making a tour of a Northern Hemisphere, and the return tours made by a joint British and Irish team. Tours would last for months, due to long traveling times and the number of games undertaken; the 1888 New Zealand team began their tour in Hawkes Bay in June and did not complete their schedule until August 1889, having played 107 rugby matches. Touring international sides would play Test matches against international opponents, including national, club and county sides in the case of Northern Hemisphere rugby, or provincial/state sides in the case of Southern Hemisphere rugby. Between 1905 and 1908, all three major Southern Hemisphere rugby countries sent their first touring teams to the Northern Hemisphere:
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
in 1905, followed by
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
in 1906 and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
in 1908. All three teams brought new styles of play, fitness levels and tactics, and were far more successful than critics had expected. The New Zealand 1905 touring team performed a
haka Haka (; plural ''haka'', in both Māori language, Māori and English language, English) are a variety of ceremonial performance art in Māori culture. It is often performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythm ...
before each match, leading Welsh Rugby Union administrator Tom Williams to suggest that Wales player Teddy Morgan lead the crowd in singing the Welsh National Anthem, ''
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau "" () is the official national anthem of Wales. The title, taken from the first words of the song, means "Old Land of My Fathers" in Welsh language, Welsh, usually rendered in English as simply "Land of My Fathers". The words were written by ...
'', as a response. After Morgan began singing, the crowd joined in: the first time a national anthem was sung at the start of a sporting event. In 1905 France played England in its first international match. Rugby union was included as an event in the Olympic Games four times during the early 20th century. No international rugby games and union-sponsored club matches were played during the First World War, but competitions continued through service teams such as the New Zealand Army team. During the Second World War no international matches were played by most countries, though Italy, Germany and Romania played a limited number of games, and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cam ...
and
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
continued their annual University Match. The first officially sanctioned international rugby sevens tournament took place in 1973 at Murrayfield, one of Scotland's biggest stadiums, as part of the
Scottish Rugby Union The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU; gd, Aonadh Rugbaidh na h-Alba) is the Sport governing body, governing body of rugby union in Scotland. Styled as Scottish Rugby, it is the second oldest Rugby Union, having been founded in 1873. The SRU oversees ...
centenary celebrations.


World Cup and professionalism

In 1987 the first Rugby World Cup was held in Australia and New Zealand, and the inaugural winners were New Zealand. The first World Cup Sevens tournament was held at Murrayfield in 1993. Rugby Sevens was introduced into the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the Friendly Games or simply the Comm Games, are a quadrennial international multi-sport event among athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 British Empire Game ...
in 1998 and was added to the Olympic Games of 2016. Both men and women's Sevens took place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Rugby union was an amateur sport until the IRB declared the game "open" in August 1995 (shortly after the completion of the 1995 World Cup), removing restrictions on payments to players. However, the pre-1995 period of rugby union was marked by frequent accusations of "
shamateurism Amateur sports are sports in which participants engage largely or entirely without remuneration. The distinction is made between amateur sporting participants and professional sports, professional sporting participants, who are paid for the time ...
", including an investigation in Britain by a House of Commons Select committee in early 1995. Following the introduction of professionalism trans-national club competitions were started, with the
Heineken Cup The European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is an annual rugby union tournament organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR). It is the top-tier competition for clubs who compete in a pre ...
in the Northern Hemisphere and
Super Rugby Super Rugby is a men's professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan, and South Africa. Building on various Southern Hem ...
in the Southern Hemisphere. The Tri Nations, an annual international tournament involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, kicked off in 1996. In
2012 File:2012 Events Collage V3.png, From left, clockwise: The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia lies capsized after the Costa Concordia disaster; Damage to Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Sandy; People gather ...
, this competition was extended to include
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
, a country whose impressive performances in international games (especially finishing in third place in the 2007 Rugby World Cup) was deemed to merit inclusion in the competition. As a result of the expansion to four teams, the tournament was renamed The Rugby Championship.


Teams and positions

Each team starts the match with 15 players on the field and seven or eight substitutes. Players in a team are divided into eight forwards (two more than in
rugby league Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league and sometimes football, footy, rugby or league, is a contact sport, full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular Rugby league playing field, field measur ...
) and seven backs.


Forwards

The main responsibilities of the forward players are to gain and retain possession of the ball. Forwards play a vital role in tackling and rucking opposing players. Players in these positions are generally bigger and stronger and take part in the scrum and line-out. The forwards are often collectively referred to as the 'pack', especially when in the scrum formation.


Front row

The front row consists of three players: two props (the loosehead prop and the tighthead prop) and the hooker. The role of the two props is to support the hooker during scrums, to provide support for the jumpers during line-outs and to provide strength and power in rucks and mauls. The third position in the front row is the hooker. The hooker is a key position in attacking and defensive play and is responsible for winning the ball in the scrum. Hookers normally throw the ball in at line-outs.


Second row

The second row consists of two locks or lock forwards. Locks are usually the tallest players in the team, and specialise as line-out jumpers. The main role of the lock in line-outs is to make a standing jump, often supported by the other forwards, to either collect the thrown ball or ensure the ball comes down on their side. Locks also have an important role in the scrum, binding directly behind the three front row players and providing forward drive.


Back row

The back row, not to be confused with 'Backs', is the third and final row of the forward positions, who are often referred to as the loose forwards. The three positions in the back row are the two flankers and the number 8. The two flanker positions called the blindside flanker and openside flanker, are the final row in the scrum. They are usually the most mobile forwards in the game. Their main role is to win possession through 'turn overs'. The number 8 packs down between the two locks at the back of the scrum. The role of the number 8 in the scrum is to control the ball after it has been heeled back from the front of the pack, and the position provides a link between the forwards and backs during attacking phases.


Backs

The role of the backs is to create and convert point-scoring opportunities. They are generally smaller, faster and more agile than the forwards. Another distinction between the backs and the forwards is that the backs are expected to have superior kicking and ball-handling skills, especially the fly-half, scrum-half, and full-back.


Half-backs

The half-backs consist of two positions, the scrum-half and the fly-half also known in the Southern Hemisphere as, half-back and first five-eighth respectively. The fly-half is crucial to a team's game plan, orchestrating the team's performance. They are usually the first to receive the ball from the scrum-half following a breakdown, lineout, or scrum, and need to be decisive with what actions to take and be effective at communicating with the outside backs. Many fly-halves are also their team's goal kickers. The scrum-half is the link between the forwards and the backs. They receive the ball from the lineout and remove the ball from the back of the scrum, usually passing it to the fly-half. They also feed the scrum and sometimes have to act as a fourth loose forward.


Three-quarters

There are four three quarter positions: two centres (inside and outside) and two
wings A wing is a type of fin that produces Lift (force), lift while moving through air or some other fluid. Accordingly, wings have Streamlines, streaklines, and pathlines, streamlined Cross section (geometry), cross-sections that are subject to aer ...
(left and right), the inside centre is commonly referred to as the second five-eighth in the Southern Hemisphere. The centres will attempt to tackle attacking players; whilst in attack, they should employ speed and strength to breach opposition defences. The wings are generally positioned on the outside of the backline. Their primary function is to finish off moves and score tries. Wings are usually the fastest players in the team and are elusive runners who use their speed to avoid tackles.


Full-back

The full-back is normally positioned several metres behind the back line. They often field opposition kicks and are usually the last line of defence should an opponent break through the back line. Two of the most important attributes of a good full-back are dependable catching skills and a good kicking game.


Laws and gameplay


Scoring

Rugby union is played between two teams – the one that scores more points wins the game. Points can be scored in several ways: a try, scored by grounding the ball in the in-goal area (between the goal line and the dead-ball line), is worth 5 points and a subsequent conversion kick scores 2 points; a successful penalty kick or a drop goal each score 3 points. The values of each of these scoring methods have been changed over the years.


Playing field

According to World Rugby's Laws of the Game, a typical rugby ground, formally known as the "playing enclosure", is formed by two major zones: * The "playing area", which includes the "field of play" and the two "in-goals", and * The "perimeter area", a clear space, free of obstructions such as fences and other objects which could pose a danger to players and officials (but not including marker flags, which are typically of soft construction). The referee (and their assistants) generally have full authority and responsibility for all players and other officials inside the playing enclosure. Fences or ropes (particularly at amateur clubs) are generally used to mark the extent of this area, although in modern stadia this may include the entire arena floor or other designated space. The Laws, above all, require that the playing enclosure's surface be safe, whilst also permitting grass, sand, clay, snow or conforming artificial turf to be used; the surface would generally be uniform across both the playing area and perimeter area, although depending on how large the perimeter is, other surfaces such as dirt, artificial turf, etc. may be used outside of a "sliding" perimeter from the bounds of the playing area.


Playing area

For the most part, the "playing area" is where the majority of play occurs. The ball is generally considered live whilst in this area, so long as players do not infringe, with special rules applied to specific zones of the playing area. The playing area consists of: * The 'field of play", bounded by (but not including) the sidelines and goal-lines, and * One "in-goal" area at each end of the field, each bounded by, but not including, the extensions two parallel sidelines (known in this context as the "touch in-goal" lines) and the dead-ball line, and its other bound being the goal line (or "try line") which is included as part of the "in-goal" area.


= Field of play

= A typical "field of play" is generally 100 metres long by 68–70 metres wide for senior rugby, depending on the specific requirements of each ground. The Laws require the field of play to be between 94 metres (103 yards) and 100 metres (109 yards) long, with a width of between 68 metres (75 yards) and 70 metres (77 yards). As other football codes, such as association football and rugby league, have specified a preferred or standard 68 metre width, this is often used unless a ground has been specifically designed to accommodate a 70-metre rugby field. 100 metres is the typical length, with a line (see below) often marked at halfway with "50" on it, representing 50 metres from each goal line. The variations have been allowed in the Laws, possibly to accommodate older grounds (perhaps even pre-metrification when yards and feet were specified) and developing nations.


= Other lines and markings

= The field of play is divided by a solid "halfway" line, drawn perpendicular to the sidelines at their midpoint. A 0.5m line is marked perpendicular to the halfway lines at its midpoint, designating the spot where the kickoffs shall be taken. The areas between each goal line and the halfway line are known as "halves" as in other football codes. A pair of solid lines are also drawn perpendicular to the sidelines, 22 metres (formerly 25 yards) from each end of the field of play and called the 22-metre lines, or "22"s. An area at each end, also known as the "22", is bounded by, but does not include, the sidelines, goal line and 22-metre line. In this area, a defensive player who cleanly catches a ball kicked by the other team, without the ball having already touched the ground after the kick, is entitled to claim a free kick, or "mark". Additional broken or dashed lines (of 5 metre dash lengths, according to the Laws) are drawn in each half or on each side of, the field, each with specific purposes under the Laws: * "10-metre" lines: Dashed lines 10 metres either side of, and parallel to, the halfway line, designating the minimum distance a receiving team must retreat when receiving a kick-off, and the minimum distance a kick-off must travel to be legal. Equivalent to the 40-metre lines in rugby league but generally marked differently. * "5-metre" lines: Dashed lines 5 metres into the field of play, parallel to each goal line. Scrums can be packed no nearer to each goal line than this line, and referees will often penalise scrum and ruck infringements in this area more harshly as defending sides will often try to stifle the attacking side's breakdown play. * "Tram tracks/tramlines": Unnamed in the Laws and sometimes also referred to, confusingly, as the "5-metre" and "15-metre" lines, these two pairs of dashed lines are drawn parallel to each sideline, 5 metres and 15 metres, respectively, into the field of play from the nearer sideline, terminating at each of their respective ends' 5-metre line (parallel and adjacent to the goal line). The area between these lines are where players must stand when contesting a lineout throw. * Additionally, the area between the two perpendicular sets of "5-metre" lines (i.e. 5 metres from each sideline and 5 metres from each goal line) is designated the "scrum zone". Where an offence occurs outside this area and the non-infringing side wishes to pack a scrum, the mark of the scrum will be moved into the zone by the referee. Generally, points where the dashed lines intersect other lines will be marked with a "T" or cross shape, although the extensions of dashed lines are generally not drawn within 5 metres of the goal lines or sidelines, to allow a clear demarcation of the field of play's boundaries. The Laws require the playing area to be rectangular in shape, however variations may be permitted with the approval of relevant unions. A notable example is Chatswood Oval in Sydney, Australia, an elliptically shaped cricket ground which is the home of Gordon rugby club, that has curved dead-ball lines to maximise the available in-goal space. Where multiple sports share a field (e.g. a rugby league and a rugby union club sharing one field), lines may be overlaid on top of each other, sometimes in different colours. However, particularly for television, rugby union line markings are generally painted white. Some exceptions include the Wallabies (Australia's national team) who often have yellow markings. Local clubs may use black, yellow, or other colours on grass, with other surfaces possibly requiring different marking techniques. Unlike association football, where on-field advertising is strictly forbidden in the laws, World Rugby allows sponsors logos to be painted on the playing surface. This is another way in which clubs can make money in the professional era and is also often used by host nations, professional leagues and tournaments as additional revenue streams, particularly when games are broadcast. In recent years, augmented reality technology has been used to replace painting to protect the surface or save costs on painting fields, producing a similar effect for broadcast albeit sometimes with poorer results.


In-goal areas

The in-goal areas sit behind the goal lines, equivalent to American football's "end zones". The in-goal areas must be between 6 metres (7 yards) and 22 metres (25 yards) deep and cover the full width of the field. A ball grounded in this area by an attacking player will generally result in a try being awarded, unless there has been a previous infringement or the player has gone out-of-bounds whilst in possession of the ball.


Perimeter area

The perimeter area is considered "out-of-bounds" for the ball and the players, normally resulting in the non-infringing team receiving possession of the ball at a restart. The perimeter area can be divided into two areas: * "Touch": The perimeter area beyond the sidelines of the playing area, but between the goal lines. * "Touch-in-goal": The perimeter areas behind each goal line outside of the playing area. Some may refer to a ball which crosses the dead-ball lines as "dead", rather than touch-in-goal. For the purposes of determining if a ball is "out-of-bounds" (i.e. has left the playing area), the perimeter area extends indefinitely away from the playing area. When a ball or player goes into touch, a lineout throw is generally awarded to the opposition at the spot on the sideline where they left the field. Exceptions include a kick out "on the full" (i.e. the ball did not land in the field-of-play before going into touch) in which case the lineout would still take place on the sideline but back in line with where the ball was kicked, or when a team takes a free kick from a
penalty Penalty or The Penalty may refer to: Sports * Penalty (golf) * Penalty (gridiron football) * Penalty (ice hockey) * Penalty (rugby) * Penalty (rugby union) * Penalty kick (association football) * Penalty shoot-out (association football) * Penalty ...
where they would retain the right to throw-in. The perimeter area should be clear and free of obstructions and heavy, solid objects which could pose a danger to players for at least 5 metres from the playing area, according to the Laws. Players often leave the playing area whether accidentally or due to being forced off of the field, sometimes sliding or needing to slow down from a sprint. Many venues at elite levels leave larger spaces around the field to accommodate fitter and faster (or heavier) players. Fixed cameras on tripods and advertising hoardings are often the main culprits for injuring players in the perimeter area.


= Flag posts

= Also required in the perimeter area are a set of 14 flag posts, each with a minimum height of 1.2 metres, marking the intersections of certain lines or other nominated distances. These are generally a plastic pole on a spring loaded or otherwise soft base, sometimes with a flag on top, covered in foam padding. Others may be moulded plastic or disposable cardboard. At lower levels, these flags may not be used, but are still specified in the Laws. Flags are placed as follows: * One flag post at each intersection of the touch-in-goal lines and the goal-lines (4 flags total) * One flag post at each intersection of the touch-in-goal lines and the dead-ball lines (4 flags total) * One flag post positioned 2 metres outside of both of the sidelines, in line with both of the 22-metre lines (4 flags total) * One flag post positioned 2 metres outside of both of the sidelines, in line with the halfway line (2 flags total)


Goalposts

Rugby goalposts are H-shaped and are situated in the middle of the goal lines at each end of the field. They consist of two vertical poles (known as "uprights"), generally made of steel or other metal but sometimes wood or a plastic, apart, connected by a horizontal "crossbar" above the ground. The minimum height for posts' uprights is , with taller posts generally seen. The bottom parts of each upright are generally wrapped in purpose-made padding to protect players from injury when coming into contact with the posts and creating another opportunity for sponsors. If an attacking player grounds the ball onto the base of the upright or post padding, a try will be awarded as the base of the upright is considered in-goal.


Match structure

At the beginning of the game, the captains and the referee toss a coin to decide which team will kick off first. Play then starts with a dropkick, with the players chasing the ball into the opposition's territory, and the other side trying to retrieve the ball and advance it. The dropkick must make contact with the ground before kicked. If the ball does not reach the opponent's line 10 meters away, the opposing team has two choices: to have the ball kicked off again, or to have a scrum at the centre of the half-way line. If the player with the ball is tackled, frequently a ruck will result. Games are divided into 40-minute halves, with an
intermission An intermission, also known as an interval in British and Indian English, is a recess between parts of a performance or production, such as for a play (theatre), theatrical play, opera, concert, or film screening. It should not be confused with ...
of not more than 15 minutes in the middle. The sides exchange ends of the field after the half-time break. Stoppages for injury or to allow the referee to take disciplinary action do not count as part of the playing time, so that the elapsed time is usually longer than 80 minutes. The referee is responsible for keeping time, even when—as in many professional tournaments—he is assisted by an official time-keeper. If time expires while the ball is in play, the game continues until the ball is "dead", and only then will the referee blow the whistle to signal half-time or full-time; but if the referee awards a penalty or free-kick, the game continues. In the knockout stages of rugby competitions, most notably the
Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's international governing body. The winners are awarded the Webb E ...
, two extra time periods of 10 minutes periods are played (with an interval of 5 minutes in between) if the game is tied after full-time. If scores are level after 100 minutes then the rules call for 20 minutes of sudden-death extra time to be played. If the sudden-death extra time period results in no scoring a kicking competition is used to determine the winner. However, no match in the history of the Rugby World Cup has ever gone past 100 minutes into a sudden-death extra time period.


Passing and kicking

Forward passing (throwing the ball ahead to another player) is not allowed; the ball can be passed laterally or backwards. The ball tends to be moved forward in three ways—by kicking, by a player running with it or within a scrum or maul. Only the player with the ball may be tackled or rucked. A "knock-on" is committed when a player knocks the ball forward, and play is restarted with a scrum. Any player may kick the ball forward in an attempt to gain territory. When a player anywhere in the playing area kicks indirectly into
touch In physiology, the somatosensory system is the network of Nervous system, neural structures in the brain and body that produce the perception of touch (haptic perception), as well as temperature (thermoception), body position (proprioception), ...
so that the ball first bounces in the field of play, the throw-in is taken where the ball went into touch. If the player kicks directly into touch (i.e. without bouncing in-field first) from within one's own line, the lineout is taken by the opposition where the ball went into touch, but if the ball is kicked into touch directly by a player outside the line, the lineout is taken level to where the kick was taken.


Breakdowns

The aim of the defending side is to stop the player with the ball, either by bringing them to ground (a tackle, which is frequently followed by a ruck) or by contesting for possession with the ball-carrier on their feet (a maul). Such a circumstance is called a breakdown and each is governed by a specific law. Tackling A player may tackle an opposing player who has the ball by holding them while bringing them to ground. Tacklers cannot tackle above the shoulder (the neck and head are out of bounds), and the tackler has to attempt to wrap their arms around the player being tackled to complete the tackle. It is illegal to push, shoulder-charge, or to trip a player using feet or legs, but hands may be used (this being referred to as a tap-tackle or ankle-tap). Tacklers may not tackle an opponent who has jumped to catch a ball until the player has landed. Rucking and Mauling Mauls occur after a player with the ball has come into contact with an opponent but the handler remains on his feet; once any combination of at least three players have bound themselves a maul has been set. A ruck is similar to the maul, but in this case the ball has gone to ground with at least three attacking players binding themselves on the ground in an attempt to secure the ball.


Set pieces


Lineout

: When the ball leaves the side of the field, a line-out is awarded against the team which last touched the ball. Forward players from each team line up a metre apart, perpendicular to the touchline and between from the touchline. The ball is thrown from the touchline down the centre of the lines of forwards by a player (usually the hooker) from the team that did not play the ball into touch. The exception to this is when the ball went out from a penalty, in which case the side who gained the penalty throws the ball in. Both sides compete for the ball and players may lift their teammates. A jumping player cannot be tackled until they stand and only shoulder-to-shoulder contact is allowed; deliberate infringement of this law is dangerous play, and results in a penalty kick.


Scrum

A scrum is a way of restarting the game safely and fairly after a minor infringement. It is awarded when the ball has been knocked or passed forward, if a player takes the ball over their own try line and puts the ball down, when a player is accidentally offside or when the ball is trapped in a ruck or maul with no realistic chance of being retrieved. A team may also opt for a scrum if awarded a penalty. A scrum is formed by the eight forwards from each team crouching down and binding together in three rows, before interlocking with the opposing team. For each team, the front row consists of two props (loosehead and tighthead) either side of the hooker. The two props are typically amongst the strongest players on the team. The second row consists of two locks and the two flankers. Behind the second row is the number 8. This formation is known as the 3–4–1 formation. Once a scrum is formed the scrum-half from the team awarded the ''feed'' rolls the ball into the gap between the two front-rows known as the ''tunnel''. The two hookers then compete for possession by hooking the ball backwards with their feet, while each pack tries to push the opposing pack backwards to help gain possession. The side that wins possession can either keep the ball under their feet while driving the opposition back, in order to gain ground, or transfer the ball to the back of the scrum where it can be picked up by the number 8 or by the scrum-half.


Officials and offences

There are three match officials: a referee, and two assistant referees. The referees are commonly addressed as "Sir". The latter, formerly known as touch judges, had the primary function of indicating when the ball had gone into "touch"; their role has been expanded and they are now expected to assist the referee in a number of areas, such as watching for foul play and checking offside lines. In addition, for matches in high level competitions, there is often a television match official (TMO; popularly called the "video referee"), to assist with certain decisions, linked up to the referee by radio. The referees have a system of hand signals to indicate their decision. Common offences include tackling above the shoulders, collapsing a scrum, ruck or maul, not releasing the ball when on the ground, or being offside. The non-offending team has a number of options when awarded a penalty: a "tap" kick, when the ball is kicked a very short distance from hand, allowing the kicker to regather the ball and run with it; a punt, when the ball is kicked a long distance from hand, for field position; a place-kick, when the kicker will attempt to score a goal; or a scrum. Players may be sent off (signalled by a red card) or temporarily suspended ("sin-binned") for ten minutes (
yellow card Yellow card may refer to: * Yellow card (sport), shown in many sports after a rules infraction or, by analogy, a serious warning in other areas * Yellowcard, an American alternative rock band * Yellow Card Scheme, a United Kingdom initiative conce ...
) for foul play or repeated infringements, and may not be replaced. Occasionally, infringements are not caught by the referee during the match and these may be "cited" by the citing commissioner after the match and have punishments (usually suspension for a number of weeks) imposed on the infringing player.


Replacements and substitutions

During the match, players may be replaced (for injury) or substituted (for tactical reasons). A player who has been replaced may not rejoin play unless he was temporarily replaced to have bleeding controlled; a player who has been substituted may return temporarily, to replace a player who has a blood injury or has suffered a concussion, or permanently, if he is replacing a front-row forward. In international matches, eight replacements are allowed; in domestic or cross-border tournaments, at the discretion of the responsible national union(s), the number of replacements may be nominated to a maximum of eight, of whom three must be sufficiently trained and experienced to provide cover for the three front row positions. Prior to 2016, all substitutions, no matter the cause, counted against the limit during a match. In 2016,
World Rugby World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th centu ...
changed the law so that substitutions made to replace a player deemed unable to continue due to foul play by the opposition would no longer count against the match limit. This change was introduced in January of that year in the Southern Hemisphere and June in the Northern Hemisphere.


Equipment

The most basic items of equipment for a game of rugby union are the ball itself, a rugby shirt (also known as a "jersey"), rugby shorts, socks, and
boots A boot is a type of footwear. Boot or Boots may also refer to: Businesses * Boot Inn, Chester, Cheshire, England * Boots (company), a high-street pharmacy chain and manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom * The Boot, Cromer Stree ...
. The
rugby ball A rugby ball is an elongated ellipsoid An ellipsoid is a surface that may be obtained from a sphere by deforming it by means of directional Scaling (geometry), scalings, or more generally, of an affine transformation. An ellipsoid is a quadric ...
is oval in shape (technically a
prolate spheroid A spheroid, also known as an ellipsoid of revolution or rotational ellipsoid, is a quadric surface (mathematics), surface obtained by Surface of revolution, rotating an ellipse about one of its principal axes; in other words, an ellipsoid with ...
), and is made up of four panels. The ball was historically made of leather, but in the modern era most games use a ball made from a synthetic material. World Rugby lays out specific dimensions for the ball, in length, in circumference of length and in circumference of width. Rugby boots have soles with studs to allow grip on the turf of the pitch. The studs may be either metal or plastic but must not have any sharp edges or ridges. Protective equipment is optional and strictly regulated. The most common items are
mouthguard A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and Gingiva, gums. An effective mouthguard is like a crash helmet for teeth and jaws. It also prevents the ...
s, which are worn by almost all players, and are compulsory in some rugby-playing nations. Other protective items that are permitted include
headgear Headgear, headwear, or headdress is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's Human head, head, including hats, helmets, turbans and many other types. Headgear is worn for many purposes, including protective clothing, pr ...
; thin (not more than 10 mm thick), non-rigid shoulder pads and
shin guard A shin guard or shin pad, is a piece of equipment worn on the front of an athlete's shin to protect it from injury. These are commonly used in sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game tha ...
s; which are worn underneath socks. Bandages or tape can be worn to support or protect injuries; some players wear tape around the head to protect the ears in scrums and rucks. Female players may also wear chest pads. Although not worn for protection, some types of fingerless mitts are allowed to aid grip. It is the responsibility of the match officials to check players' clothing and equipment before a game to ensure that it conforms to the laws of the game.


Governing bodies

The international governing body of rugby union (and associated games such as sevens) is World Rugby (WR). The WR headquarters are in
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. On a bay at the mouth of the River Liffey, it is in the Provinces of Ireland, province of Leinster, bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of th ...
, Ireland. WR, founded in 1886, governs the sport worldwide and publishes the game's laws and rankings. As of February 2014, WR (then known as the IRB, for International Rugby Board) recorded 119 unions in its membership, 101 full members and 18 associate member countries. According to WR, rugby union is played by men and women in over 100 countries. WR controls the
Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's international governing body. The winners are awarded the Webb E ...
, the
Women's Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is the women's rugby union world championship which is organised by World Rugby. The first Rugby World Cup for women was held in 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup, 1991, but it was not until the 1998 Women's Rugby World Cup, 199 ...
, Rugby World Cup Sevens, HSBC Sevens Series, HSBC Women's Sevens Series, World Under 20 Championship, World Under 20 Trophy, Nations Cup and the
Pacific Nations Cup The Pacific Nations Cup is an international rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. One of the ...
. WR holds votes to decide where each of these events are to be held, except in the case of the Sevens World Series for men and women, for which WR contracts with several national unions to hold individual events. Six regional associations, which are members of WR, form the next level of administration; these are: * Rugby Africa, formerly Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) * Asia Rugby, formerly Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) * Rugby Americas North, formerly North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) *
Rugby Europe Rugby Europe is the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. It was formed in 1999 to promote, develop, organise, and administer the game of rugby in Europe under the authority of World Rugby (the sport's global governing body). However, it ...
, previously Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur – Association Européenne de Rugby (FIRA-AER) *
Oceania Rugby Oceania Rugby, previously known as the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU), is the regional governing body for rugby union in Oceania. It was founded in 2000 to represent the interests of Oceania rugby within World Rugby, the international go ...
, formerly Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) * Sudamérica Rugby, formerly Confederación Sudamericana de Rugby (''South American Rugby Confederation'', or CONSUR)
SANZAAR SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby; previously known as SANZAR) is the body which oversees Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in rugby union. SANZAAR meets annually and is composed of the CEOs from ...
(South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) is a joint venture of the
South African Rugby Union The South African Rugby Union (SARU) is the governing body for rugby union in South Africa and is affiliated to World Rugby. It was established in 1992 as the South African Rugby Football Union, from the merger of the South African Rugby Board a ...
,
New Zealand Rugby New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is the Sports governing body, governing body of rugby union in New Zealand. It was founded in 1892 as the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), 12 years after the first provincial unions in New Zealand. In 1949 it b ...
,
Rugby Australia Rugby Australia Ltd, previously named the Australian Rugby Union Limited and Australian Rugby Football Union Limited, is an Australian company operating the premier rugby union competition in Australia and teams. It has its origins in 1949. It ...
and the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) that operates
Super Rugby Super Rugby is a men's professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan, and South Africa. Building on various Southern Hem ...
and
The Rugby Championship The Rugby Championship is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina national rugby union team, Argentina, Australia national rugby union team, Australia, New Zealand national rugby union team, New Zealand, and Sou ...
(formerly the Tri Nations before the entry of Argentina). Although UAR initially had no representation on the former SANZAR board, it was granted input into the organisation's issues, especially with regard to The Rugby Championship, and became a full SANZAAR member in 2016 (when the country entered Super Rugby). National unions oversee rugby union within individual countries and are affiliated to WR. Since 2016, the WR Council has 40 seats. A total of 11 unions—the eight foundation unions of
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
,
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
, plus Argentina, and —have two seats each. In addition, the six regional associations have two seats each. Four more unions—, , and the
USA The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entir ...
—have one seat each. Finally, the chairman and Vice Chairman, who usually come from one of the eight foundation unions (although the current Vice Chairman, Agustín Pichot, is with the non-foundation Argentine union) have one vote each.


Global reach

The earliest countries to adopt rugby union were
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
, the country of inception, and the other three Home Nations,
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
. The spread of rugby union as a global sport has its roots in the exporting of the game by British expatriates, military personnel, and overseas university students. The first rugby club in
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
was formed by British residents in Le Havre in 1872, while the next year
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
recorded its first game: 'Banks' v 'City' in Buenos Aires. Seven countries have adopted rugby union as their de facto
national sport A national sport is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation. Some sports are ''de facto'' (not established by law) national sports, as sumo is in Japan and Gaelic games are in Republic of Ireland, Ireland and field hockey in ...
; they are
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
, Georgia,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
,
Samoa Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa; sm, Sāmoa, and until 1997 known as Western Samoa, is a Polynesian island country consisting of two main islands (Savai'i and Upolu); two smaller, inhabited islands (Manono Island, Manono an ...
,
Tonga Tonga (, ; ), officially the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia, Polynesian country and archipelago. The country has List of islands and towns in Tonga, 171 islands – of which 45 are inhabited. Its tota ...
and Wales.


Oceania

A rugby club was formed in Sydney,
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
in 1864; while the sport was said to have been introduced to
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
by Charles Monro in 1870, who played rugby while a student at Christ's College, Finchley. Several island nations have embraced the sport of rugby. Rugby was first played in
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
circa 1884 by European and Fijian soldiers of the Native Constabulary at Ba on Viti Levu island. Fiji then sent their first overseas team to
Samoa Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa; sm, Sāmoa, and until 1997 known as Western Samoa, is a Polynesian island country consisting of two main islands (Savai'i and Upolu); two smaller, inhabited islands (Manono Island, Manono an ...
in 1924, who in turn set up their own union in 1924. Along with
Tonga Tonga (, ; ), officially the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia, Polynesian country and archipelago. The country has List of islands and towns in Tonga, 171 islands – of which 45 are inhabited. Its tota ...
, other countries to have national rugby teams in Oceania include
the Cook Islands ) , image_map = Cook Islands on the globe (small islands magnified) (Polynesia centered).svg , capital = Avarua , coordinates = , largest_city = Avarua , official_languages = , langu ...
,
Niue Niue (, ; niu, Niuē) is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand. Niue's land area is about and its population, predominantly Polynesians, Polynesian, was about 1,600 in 2016. Niue is located in a triangle b ...
,
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (abbreviated PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a country i ...
and
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands is an island country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and north-west of Vanuatu. It has a land area of , and a population of approx. 700,000. Its capita ...
.


North America and Caribbean

In North America a club formed in Montreal in 1868, Canada's first club. The city of Montreal also played its part in the introduction of the sport in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
, when students of
McGill University McGill University (french: link=no, Université McGill) is an English-language public university, public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1821 by royal charter granted by George IV, King George IV,Frost, Stan ...
played against a team from
Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the History of the Puritans in North America, Puritan cler ...
in 1874. The two variants of gridiron football —
Canadian football Canadian football () is a team sport, sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's sco ...
and, to a lesser extent,
American football American football (referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada), also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. Th ...
— were once considered forms of
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th ...
but are seldom now referred to as such. In fact, the governing body of Canadian football,
Football Canada Football Canada is the Sport governing body, governing body for amateur sport, amateur gridiron football in Canada headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. Football Canada focuses primarily its own Canadian form of the sport, and is currently the world ...
, was known as the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) as late as 1967, more than fifty years after the sport parted ways with the established rules of rugby union. The
Grey Cup The Grey Cup (french: Coupe Grey) is both the championship game of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the trophy awarded to the victorious team playing in the namesake championship of professional Canadian football. The game is contested be ...
, the trophy awarded to the victorious team playing in the namesake championship of the professional
Canadian Football League The Canadian Football League (CFL; french: Ligue canadienne de football—LCF) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football. The league consists of nine teams, each located in a c ...
(CFL), was originally awarded to the champion of the CRU. The two strongest leagues in the CRU, the
Interprovincial Rugby Football Union The East Division is one of the two regional divisions of the Canadian Football League, its counterpart being the West Division (CFL), West Division. Although the CFL was not founded until 1958, the East Division and its clubs are descended from ...
in
Eastern Canada Eastern Canada (also the Eastern provinces or the East) is generally considered to be the region of Canada south of the Hudson Bay/Hudson Strait, Strait and east of Manitoba, consisting of the following provinces and territories of Canada, provi ...
and the
Western Interprovincial Football Union The West Division is one of the two regional divisions of the Canadian Football League The Canadian Football League (CFL; french: Ligue canadienne de football—LCF) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level ...
in
Western Canada Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces, Canadian West or the Western provinces of Canada, and commonly known within Canada as the West, is a list of regions of Canada, Canadian region that includes the four western provinces a ...
, evolved into the present day CFL. Although the exact date of arrival of rugby union in Trinidad and Tobago is unknown, their first club Northern RFC was formed in 1923, a national team was playing by 1927 and due to a cancelled tour to
British Guiana British Guiana was a British colony, part of the mainland British West Indies, which resides on the northern coast of South America. Since 1966 it has been known as the independent nation of Guyana. The first European to encounter Guiana was S ...
in 1933, switched their venue to
Barbados Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It occupies an area of and has a population of about 287,000 (2019 estimate). ...
; introducing rugby to the island. Other Atlantic countries to play rugby union include
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about south of Cuba, and west of Hisp ...
and
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , song_type = National song , song = "Hail to Bermuda" , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , mapsize2 = , map_caption2 = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = , es ...
.
Rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. One of the Comparison of rugby league and rugby union, two codes of ru ...
is the fastest growing college sport and sport in general in the US.
Major League Rugby Major League Rugby (MLR or USMLR) is a professional rugby union competition and the top-level championship for clubs in North America. In the 2022 season it was contested by thirteen teams: twelve from the United States and one from Canada. Off ...
is the professional Rugby union competition in the US and Canada.


Europe

The growth of rugby union in
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
outside the 6 Nations countries in terms of playing numbers, attendances, and viewership has been sporadic. Historically, British and Irish home teams played the Southern Hemisphere teams of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as France. The rest of Europe were left to play amongst themselves. During a period when it had been isolated by the British and Irish Unions, France, lacking international competition, became the only European team from the top tier to regularly play the other European countries; mainly
Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the ...
, the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
,
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, S ...
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called Voivodeships of Poland, voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is ...
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
and
Czechoslovakia , rue, Чеськословеньско, , yi, טשעכאסלאוואקיי, , common_name = Czechoslovakia , life_span = 1918–19391945–1992 , p1 = Austria-Hungary , image_p1 ...
. In 1934, instigated by the French Rugby Federation, FIRA (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur) was formed to organise rugby union outside the authority of the IRFB. The founding members were , , , , , and . Other European rugby playing nations of note include
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
, whose first officially recorded match is marked by an encounter between Dynamo Moscow and the Moscow Institute of Physical Education in 1933. Rugby union in Portugal also took hold between the First and Second World Wars, with a Portuguese National XV set up in 1922 and an official championship started in 1927. In 1999, FIRA agreed to place itself under the auspices of the IRB, transforming itself into a strictly European organising body. Accordingly, it changed its name to FIRA–AER (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur – Association Européenne de Rugby). It adopted its current name of
Rugby Europe Rugby Europe is the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. It was formed in 1999 to promote, develop, organise, and administer the game of rugby in Europe under the authority of World Rugby (the sport's global governing body). However, it ...
in 2014.


South America

Although
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
is the best-known rugby playing nation in
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
, founding the Argentine Rugby Union in 1899, several other countries on the continent have a long history. Rugby had been played in
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
since the end of the 19th century, but the game was played regularly only from 1926, when São Paulo beat Santos in an inter-city match. It took
Uruguay Uruguay (; ), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; while bordering ...
several aborted attempts to adapt to rugby, led mainly by the efforts of the Montevideo Cricket Club; these efforts succeeded in 1951 with the formation of a national league and four clubs. Other South American countries that formed a rugby union include
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...
(1948), and
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to th ...
(1968). Súper Liga Americana de Rugby is the professional Rugby union competition in
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
.


Asia

Many Asian countries have a tradition of playing rugby dating from the British Empire.
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
began playing rugby in the early 1870s, the Calcutta Football Club forming in 1873. However, with the departure of a local British army regiment, interest in rugby diminished in the area. In 1878, The Calcutta Football Club was disbanded, and rugby in India faltered.
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
claims to have founded their union in 1878, and although little official information from the period is available, the team won the All-India cup in Madras in 1920. The first recorded match in
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two r ...
was in 1892, but the first confirmation of rugby is the existence of the ''HMS Malaya Cup'' which was first presented in 1922 and is still awarded to the winners of the Malay sevens. Rugby union was introduced to
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
in 1899 by two Cambridge students: Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke. The Japan RFU was founded in 1926 and its place in rugby history was cemented when Japan hosted the 2019 World Cup. It was the first country outside the Commonwealth, Ireland and France to host the event, and was viewed by the IRB as an opportunity for rugby union to extend its reach, particularly in Asia. Other Asian playing countries of note include
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
,
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed ...
,
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
and The Philippines, while the former British colony of
Hong Kong Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special ...
is notable within rugby for its development of the rugby sevens game, especially the
Hong Kong Sevens The Hong Kong Sevens () is an rugby sevens tournament held annually in Hong Kong on a weekend in late March or early April. Considered the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series The World Rugby Men's Sevens Series is an annual ...
tournament which was founded in 1976. Rugby in the Middle East and the Gulf States has its history in the 1950s, with clubs formed by British and French Services stationed in the region after the Second World War. When these servicemen left, the clubs and teams were kept alive by young professionals, mostly Europeans, working in these countries. The official union of
Oman Oman ( ; ar, عُمَان ' ), officially the Sultanate of Oman ( ar, سلْطنةُ عُمان ), is an Arabian country located in southwestern Asia. It is situated on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and spans the mouth of t ...
was formed in 1971.
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ; ar, البحرين, al-Bahrayn, locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, ' is an island country in Western Asia. It is situated on the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Persian Gulf, and comprises a small archipelago made u ...
founded its union a year later, while in 1975 the Dubai Sevens, the Gulf's leading rugby tournament, was created. Rugby remains a minority sport in the region with
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
and the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, اَلْإِمَارَات الْعَرَبِيَة الْمُتَحِدَة ), or simply the Emirates ( ar, الِْإمَارَات ), is a country in Western Asia (Middle East, The Middle East). It is ...
, as of 2019, being the only member union from the Middle East to be included in the
IRB World Rankings The World Rugby Rankings (formerly the IRB Rankings) is a ranking system for national teams in rugby union, managed by World Rugby, the sport's governing body. There are separate men's and women's rankings. The teams of World Rugby's member nation ...
.


Africa

In 1875, rugby was introduced to
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
by British soldiers garrisoned in Cape Town. The game spread quickly across the country, displacing Winchester College football as the sport of choice in South Africa and spreading to nearby
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozam ...
. South African settlers also brought the game with them to Namibia and competed against British administrators in
British East Africa East Africa Protectorate (also known as British East Africa) was an area in the African Great Lakes occupying roughly the same terrain as present-day Kenya from the Indian Ocean inland to the border with Uganda in the west. Controlled by Bri ...
. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the sport in Africa was spread by settlers and colonials who often adopted a "whites-only" policy to playing the game. This resulted in rugby being viewed as a
bourgeois The bourgeoisie ( , ) is a social class A social class is a grouping of people into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. Membership in a social class can for example be ...
sport by the indigenous people with limited appeal. Despite this enclaves of black participation developed notably in the
Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces of South Africa South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline tha ...
and in
Harare Harare (; formerly Salisbury ) is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered ...
. The earliest countries to see the playing of competitive rugby include South Africa, and neighbouring
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the ''de facto'' Succession of states, successor state to th ...
(modern-day Zimbabwe), which formed the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union in 1895 and became a regular stop for touring British and New Zealand sides. In more recent times the sport has been embraced by several African nations. In the early 21st century
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
has experienced crowds of 40,000 at national matches, while Namibia, whose history of rugby can be dated from 1915, have qualified for the final stages of the World Cup four times since 1999. Other African nations to be represented in the World Rugby Rankings as Member Unions include Côte d'Ivoire,
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"() , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Nairobi , coordinates = , largest_city = Nairobi , ...
,
Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The souther ...
and
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Africa, Central, Southern Africa, Southern and East Africa, although it is typically referred to as being in Southern Africa at its most cent ...
. South Africa and Kenya are among the 15 "core teams" that participate in every event of the men's
World Rugby Sevens Series The World Rugby Men's Sevens Series is an annual series of international rugby sevens tournaments run by World Rugby featuring national sevens teams. Organised for the first time in the 1999–2000 season as the IRB World Sevens Series, the comp ...
.


Women's rugby union

Records of women's rugby football date from the late 19th century, with the first documented source being Emily Valentine's writings, in which she states that she set up a rugby team in Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Ireland in 1887. Although there are reports of early women's matches in New Zealand and France, one of the first notable games to prove primary evidence was the 1917 war-time encounter between Cardiff Ladies and Newport Ladies; a photo of which shows the Cardiff team before the match at the
Cardiff Arms Park Cardiff Arms Park ( cy, Parc yr Arfau Caerdydd), also known as The Arms Park, is situated in the centre of Cardiff, Wales. It is primarily known as a rugby union stadium, but it also has a bowling green. The Arms Park was host to the 1958 Brit ...
. Since the 1980s, the game has grown in popularity among female athletes, and by 2010, according to
World Rugby World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th centu ...
, women's rugby was being played in over 100 countries. The English-based Women's Rugby Football Union (WRFU), responsible for women's rugby in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, was founded in 1983, and is the oldest formally organised national governing body for women's rugby. This was replaced in 1994 by the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) in England with each of the other Home Nations governing their own countries. The premier international competition in rugby union for women is the
Women's Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is the women's rugby union world championship which is organised by World Rugby. The first Rugby World Cup for women was held in 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup, 1991, but it was not until the 1998 Women's Rugby World Cup, 199 ...
, first held in 1991; from 1994 through 2014, it was held every four years. After the 2014 event, the tournament was brought forward a year to 2017 to avoid clashing with other sporting cycles, in particular the Rugby World Cup Sevens competition. The Women's Rugby World Cup returned to a four-year cycle after 2017, with future competitions to be held in the middle year of the men's World Cup cycle.


Major international competitions


Rugby World Cup

The most important competition in rugby union is the
Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's international governing body. The winners are awarded the Webb E ...
, a men's tournament that has taken place every four years since the inaugural event in 1987.
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
are the reigning champions, having defeated England in the final of the
2019 Rugby World Cup The 2019 Rugby World Cup was the ninth edition of the Rugby World Cup, the quadrennial world championship for men's rugby union teams. It was hosted in Japan from 20 September to 2 November in 12 venues all across the country. The opening match ...
in Yokohama.
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
and South Africa have each won the title three times (New Zealand: 1987, 2011, 2015; South Africa: 1995, 2007, 2019), Australia have won twice (1991 and 1999), and England once (2003). England is the only team from the Northern Hemisphere to have won the Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World Cup has continued to grow since its inception in 1987. The Rugby League World Cup dates from 1954 in contrast. The first tournament, in which 16 teams competed for the title, was broadcast to 17 countries with an accumulated total of 230 million television viewers. Ticket sales during the pool stages and finals of the same tournament was less than a million. The 2007 World Cup was contested by 94 countries with ticket sales of 3,850,000 over the pool and final stage. The accumulated television audience for the event, then broadcast to 200 countries, was a claimed 4.2 billion. The 2019 Rugby World Cup took place in Japan between 20 September and 2 November. It was the ninth edition and the first time the tournament has been held in Asia.


Regional tournaments

Major international competitions are the
Six Nations Championship The Six Nations Championship (known as the Guinness Six Nations for sponsorship reasons) is an annual international men's rugby union competition between the teams of England national rugby union team, England, France national rugby union team, ...
and
The Rugby Championship The Rugby Championship is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina national rugby union team, Argentina, Australia national rugby union team, Australia, New Zealand national rugby union team, New Zealand, and Sou ...
, held in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere respectively. The Six Nations is an annual competition involving the European teams , , , , and . Each country plays the other five once. Following the first internationals between England and Scotland, Ireland and Wales began competing in the 1880s, forming the ''Home International Championships''. France joined the tournament in the 1900s and in 1910 the term ''Five Nations'' first appeared. However, the
Home Nations Home Nations is a collective term with one of two meanings depending on context. Politically it means the nations of the countries of the United Kingdom, constituent countries of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and W ...
(England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) excluded France in 1931 amid a run of poor results, allegations of professionalism and concerns over on-field violence. France then rejoined in 1939–1940, though World War II halted proceedings for a further eight years. France has played in all the tournaments since WWII, the first of which was played in 1947. In 2000, Italy became the sixth nation in the contest and Rome's
Stadio Olimpico The Stadio Olimpico (English: ''Olympic Stadium'') is the largest sports facility in Rome, Italy, seating over 70,000 spectators. It is located within the Foro Italico sports complex, north of the city. The structure is owned by the Italian Na ...
has replaced Stadio Flaminio as the venue for their home games since 2013. The Rugby Championship is the Southern Hemisphere's annual international series for that region's top national teams. From its inception in 1996 through 2011, it was known as the Tri Nations, as it featured the hemisphere's traditional powers of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These teams have dominated world rankings in recent years, and many considered the Tri Nations to be the toughest competition in international rugby. The Tri Nations was initially played on a home and away basis with the three nations playing each other twice. In 2006 a new system was introduced where each nation plays the others three times, though in 2007 and 2011 the teams played each other only twice, as both were World Cup years. Since Argentina's strong performances in the 2007 World Cup, after the 2009 Tri Nations tournament, SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) invited the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) to join an expanded Four Nations tournament in 2012. The competition has been officially rechristened as The Rugby Championship beginning with the 2012 edition. The competition reverted to the Tri Nations' original home-and-away format, but now involving four teams. In World Cup years, an abbreviated tournament is held in which each team plays the others only once. In 2020, the "Tri Nations" format was temporarily revived due to the withdrawal of South Africa owing to the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identif ...
.


Rugby within multi-sport events

Rugby union was played at the Olympic Games in
1900 As of March 1 (Old Style, O.S. February 17), when the Julian calendar acknowledged a leap day and the Gregorian calendar did not, the Julian calendar fell one day further behind, bringing the difference to 13 days until February 28 (Old Style, ...
,
1908 Events January * January 1 – The British Nimrod Expedition, ''Nimrod'' Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton sets sail from New Zealand on the ''Nimrod (ship), Nimrod'' for Antarctica. * January 3 – A Solar eclipse of January 3, 1908, ...
,
1920 Events January * January 1 ** Polish–Soviet War in 1920: The Russian Red Army increases its troops along the Polish border from 4 divisions to 20. ** Kauniainen, completely surrounded by the city of Espoo, secedes from Espoo as its own ma ...
and
1924 Events January * January 12 – Gopinath Saha shoots Ernest Day, whom he has mistaken for Sir Charles Tegart, the police commissioner of Calcutta, and is arrested soon after. * January 20–January 30, 30 – Kuomintang in ...
. As per Olympic rules, the nations of Scotland, Wales and England were not allowed to play separately as they are not sovereign states. In 1900, France won the gold, beating Great Britain 27 points to 8 and defeating Germany 27 points to 17. In 1908, Australia defeated Great Britain, claiming the gold medal, the score being 32 points to three. In 1920, the United States, fielding a team with many players new to the sport of rugby, upset France in a shock win, eight points to zero. In 1924, the United States again defeated France 17 to 3, becoming the only team to win gold twice in the sport. In 2009 the
International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: link=no, Comité international olympique, ''CIO'') is a non-governmental Sports governing body, sports organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is constituted in the form of an associ ...
voted with a majority of 81 to 8 that rugby union be reinstated as an Olympic sport in at least the
2016 File:2016 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Bombed-out buildings in Ankara following the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt; the Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, impeachment trial of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff; Damaged houses duri ...
and
2020 2020 was heavily defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to global Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, social and Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic disruption, mass cancellations and postponements of events, COVID- ...
games, but in the sevens, 4-day tournament format. This is something the rugby world has aspired to for a long time and Bernard Lapasset, president of the International Rugby Board, said the Olympic gold medal would be considered to be "the pinnacle of our sport" (Rugby Sevens). Rugby sevens has been played at the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the Friendly Games or simply the Comm Games, are a quadrennial international multi-sport event among athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 British Empire Game ...
since the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur. The most gold medal holders are
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
who have won the competition on four successive occasions until South Africa beat them in 2014. Rugby union has also been an
Asian Games The Asian Games, also known as Asiad, is a continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation (AGF) from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until th ...
event since the 1998 games in Bangkok, Thailand. In the 1998 and 2002 editions of the games, both the usual fifteen-a-side variety and rugby sevens were played, but from 2006 onwards, only rugby sevens was retained. In 2010, the women's rugby sevens event was introduced. The event is likely to remain a permanent fixture of the Asian Games due to elevation of rugby sevens as an Olympic sport from the 2016 Olympics onwards. The present gold medal holders in the sevens tournament, held in
2014 File:2014 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Stocking up supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Western African Ebola virus epidemic; Citizens examining the ruins after the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping; Bundles of wat ...
, are
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
in the men's event and
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
in the women's.


Women's international rugby

Women's international rugby union began in 1982, with a match between
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
and the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
played in
Utrecht Utrecht ( , , ) is the List of cities in the Netherlands by province, fourth-largest city and a List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the Provinces of the Netherlands, pro ...
. As of 2009 over six hundred women's internationals have been played by over forty different nations. The first
Women's Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is the women's rugby union world championship which is organised by World Rugby. The first Rugby World Cup for women was held in 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup, 1991, but it was not until the 1998 Women's Rugby World Cup, 199 ...
was held in Wales in 1991, and was won by the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
. The second tournament took place in
1994 File:1994 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The 1994 Winter Olympics are held in Lillehammer, Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe, the mainland territory o ...
, and from that time through 2014 was held every four years. The New Zealand Women's team then won four straight World Cups (
1998 1998 was designated as the ''International Year of the Ocean''. Events January * January 6 – The ''Lunar Prospector'' spacecraft is launched into orbit around the Moon, and later finds evidence for frozen water, in soil in permanently sh ...
,
2002 File:2002 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The 2002 Winter Olympics are held in Salt Lake City; Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and her daughter Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon die; East Timor gains East Timor independence, indepe ...
,
2006 File:2006 Events Collage V1.png, From top left, clockwise: The 2006 Winter Olympics open in Turin; Twitter is founded and launched by Jack Dorsey; The Nintendo Wii is released; Montenegro 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, votes to declare ...
,
2010 File:2010 Events Collage New.png, From top left, clockwise: The 2010 Chile earthquake was one of the strongest recorded in history; The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland disrupts air travel in Europe; A ...
) before
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
won in
2014 File:2014 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Stocking up supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Western African Ebola virus epidemic; Citizens examining the ruins after the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping; Bundles of wat ...
. Following the 2014 event, World Rugby moved the next edition of the event to
2017 File:2017 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The War Against ISIS at the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017); aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing; The Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ("Great American Eclipse"); North Korea tests a ser ...
, with a new four-year cycle from that point forward. New Zealand are the current World Cup holders. As well as the Women's Rugby World Cup there are also other regular tournaments, including a Six Nations, run in parallel to the men's competition. The Women's Six Nations, first played in
1996 File:1996 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: A Centennial Olympic Park bombing, bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, set off by a radical Anti-abortion violence, anti-abortionist; The center fuel tank explodes on TWA Flight 8 ...
has been dominated by England, who have won the tournament on 14 occasions, including a run of seven consecutive wins from
2006 File:2006 Events Collage V1.png, From top left, clockwise: The 2006 Winter Olympics open in Turin; Twitter is founded and launched by Jack Dorsey; The Nintendo Wii is released; Montenegro 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, votes to declare ...
to
2012 File:2012 Events Collage V3.png, From left, clockwise: The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia lies capsized after the Costa Concordia disaster; Damage to Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Sandy; People gather ...
. However, since then, England have won only in
2017 File:2017 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The War Against ISIS at the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017); aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing; The Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ("Great American Eclipse"); North Korea tests a ser ...
; reigning champion France have won in each even-numbered year (2014, 2016, 2018) whilst
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
won in 2013 and 2015.


Professional rugby union

Rugby union has been professionalised since 1995. The following table shows professional and semi-professional rugby union competitions.


Variants

Rugby union has spawned several variants of the full-contact, 15-a-side game. The two most common differences in adapted versions are fewer players and reduced player contact. The oldest variant is rugby sevens (sometimes 7s or VIIs), a fast-paced game which originated in Melrose, Scotland in 1883. In rugby sevens, there are only seven players per side, and each half is normally seven minutes. Major tournaments include the
Hong Kong Sevens The Hong Kong Sevens () is an rugby sevens tournament held annually in Hong Kong on a weekend in late March or early April. Considered the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series The World Rugby Men's Sevens Series is an annual ...
and Dubai Sevens, both held in areas not normally associated with the highest levels of the 15-a-side game. A more recent variant of the sport is rugby tens (10s or Xs), a Malaysian invention with ten players per side. Touch rugby, in which "tackles" are made by simply touching the ball carrier with two hands, is popular both as a training game and more formally as a mixed sex version of the sport played by both children and adults. Several variants have been created to introduce the sport to children with a less physical contact.
Mini rugby Mini rugby, also known as New Image Rugby, is a form of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. On ...
is a version aimed at fostering the sport in children. It is played with only eight players and on a smaller pitch.
Tag Rugby file:Tag.Rugby.Belt.jpg, Tag-rugby belt Tag rugby, or flag rugby, is a non-contact team game in which each player wears a belt that has two velcro tags attached to it, or shorts with velcro patches. The mode of play is based on rugby league with ...
is a version in which the players wear a belt with two tags attached by velcro, the removal of either counting as a 'tackle'. Tag Rugby also varies in that kicking the ball is not allowed. Similar to Tag Rugby,
American Flag Rugby American flag rugby (AFR) is a mixed-gender, non-contact version of rugby union played in the USA, and is a variant of the sport Tag Rugby. American flag rugby is designed for American children entering grades K–9. The organization itself exis ...
, (AFR), is a mixed gender, non-contact imitation of rugby union designed for American children entering grades K-9. Both American Flag Rugby and Mini Rugby differ from Tag Rugby in that they introduce more advanced elements of rugby union as the participants age. Other less formal variants include beach rugby and snow rugby.


Influence on other sports

Rugby league Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league and sometimes football, footy, rugby or league, is a contact sport, full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular Rugby league playing field, field measur ...
was formed after the Northern Union broke from the Rugby Football Union in a disagreement over payment to players. It went on to change its laws and became a football code in its own right. The two sports continue to influence each other to this day.
American football American football (referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada), also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. Th ...
and
Canadian football Canadian football () is a team sport, sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's sco ...
are derived from early forms of rugby football.
Australian rules football Australian football, also called Australian rules football or Aussie rules, or more simply football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an Australian rules football playing field, oval field, often a modifie ...
was influenced by
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th ...
and other games originating in English public schools.
James Naismith James Naismith (; November 6, 1861November 28, 1939) was a Canadian-American physical educator, physician, Christian chaplain, and sports coach, best known as the inventor of the game of basketball. After moving to the United States, he wrote ...
took aspects of many sports including rugby to invent
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender' ...
. The most obvious contribution is the jump ball's similarity to the line-out as well as the underhand shooting style that dominated the early years of the sport. Naismith played rugby at
McGill University McGill University (french: link=no, Université McGill) is an English-language public university, public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1821 by royal charter granted by George IV, King George IV,Frost, Stan ...
. Swedish football was a code whose rules were a mix of Association and Rugby football rules. Rugby lends its name to wheelchair rugby, a full-contact sport which contains elements of rugby such as crossing a try line with the ball to score.


Statistics and records

According to a 2011 report by the Centre for the International Business of Sport, over four and a half million people play rugby union or one of its variants organised by the IRB. This is an increase of 19 percent since the previous report in 2007. The report also claimed that since 2007 participation has grown by 33 percent in Africa, 22 percent in South America and 18 percent in Asia and North America. In 2014 the IRB published a breakdown of the total number of players worldwide by national unions. It recorded a total of 6.6 million players globally, of those, 2.36 million were registered members playing for a club affiliated to their country's union. The 2016 World Rugby Year in Review reported 8.5 million players, of which 3.2 million were registered union players and 1.9 million were registered club players; 22% of all players were female. The most capped international player from the tier 1 nations is Welsh captain
Alun Wyn Jones Alun Wyn Jones (born 19 September 1985) is a Welsh professional rugby union player who plays as a Rugby union/lock, lock for the Ospreys (rugby union), Ospreys and the Wales national rugby union team, Wales national team. He is List of rugby u ...
who has played over 150 internationals. While the top scoring tier 1 international player is New Zealand's
Dan Carter Daniel William Carter (born 5 March 1982) is a retired New Zealand rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of th ...
, who has amassed 1442 points during his career. In April 2010
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no ), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania ...
which is a second tier rugby nation, broke the record of consecutive international wins for second tier rugby nations. In 2016, the All Blacks of New Zealand set the new record 18 consecutive test wins among tier 1 rugby nations, bettering their previous consecutive run of 17. This record was equalled by England on 11 March 2017 with a win over Scotland at Twickenham. The highest scoring international match between two recognised unions was Hong Kong's 164–13 victory over Singapore on 27 October 1994. While the largest winning margin of 152 points is held by two countries, Japan (a 155–3 win over Chinese Taipei) and Argentina (152–0 over Paraguay) both in 2002. The record attendance for a rugby union game was set on 15 July 2000 in which
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
defeated
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
39–35 in a Bledisloe Cup game at
Stadium Australia Stadium Australia, currently known as Accor Stadium for sponsorship purposes, is a multi-purpose stadium located in the Sydney Olympic Park, in Sydney, Australia. The stadium, which in Australia is sometimes referred to as Sydney Olympic Stadi ...
in
Sydney Sydney ( ) is the capital city of the States and territories of Australia, state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in both Australia and List of cities in Oceania by population, Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metro ...
before 109,874 fans. The record attendance for a match in Europe of 104,000 (at the time a world record) was set on 1 March 1975 when
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
defeated
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
12–10 at Murrayfield in
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
during the 1975 Five Nations Championship. This crowd however is an estimate and contemporaneous newspaper accounts list a crowd of 80,000 only. The record attendance for a domestic club match is 99,124, set when
Racing 92 Racing 92 () is a French rugby union club based in suburban Paris that was formed in 2001 with the collaboration of the Racing Club de France and US Métro. They were called Racing Métro 92 between 2001 and 2015, when they changed the name to ...
defeated
Toulon Toulon (, , ; oc, label=Occitan language, Provençal, Tolon , , ) is a city on the French Riviera and a large port on the Mediterranean coast, with a major naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regions of France, region, and ...
in the 2016 Top 14 final on 24 June at
Camp Nou Camp Nou (, meaning ''new field'', often referred to in English language, English as the Nou Camp), officially branded as Spotify Camp Nou for sponsorship and financial reasons, is a Stadium, football stadium in Barcelona, Spain. It has been the ...
in
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within ci ...
. The match had been moved from its normal site of
Stade de France The Stade de France (, ) is the national stadium of France, located just north of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis. Its seating capacity of 80,698 makes it the List of European stadiums by capacity, sixth-large ...
near Paris due to scheduling conflicts with France's hosting of
UEFA Euro 2016 The 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016 (stylised as UEFA EURO 2016) or simply Euro 2016, was the 15th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's association football, football ch ...
.


In culture

Thomas Hughes 1857 novel ''
Tom Brown's Schooldays ''Tom Brown's School Days'' (sometimes written ''Tom Brown's Schooldays'', also published under the titles ''Tom Brown at Rugby'', ''School Days at Rugby'', and ''Tom Brown's School Days at Rugby'') is an 1857 novel by Thomas Hughes. The stor ...
'', set at
Rugby School Rugby School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free ...
, includes a rugby football match, also portrayed in the 1940s film of the same name. James Joyce mentions Irish team Bective Rangers in several of his works, including '' Ulysses'' (1922) and ''
Finnegans Wake ''Finnegans Wake'' is a novel by Irish literature, Irish writer James Joyce. It is well known for its experimental style and reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the Western canon. It has been called "a work of fiction whi ...
'' (1939), while his 1916 semi-autobiographical work ''
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ''A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'' is the Debut novel, first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A ''Künstlerroman'' written in a Modernist literature, modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephe ...
'' has an account of Ireland international James Magee. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his 1924 Sherlock Holmes tale ''
The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire", written by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 12 Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "Privat ...
'', mentions that Dr Watson played rugby for Blackheath.
Henri Rousseau Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (; 21 May 1844 – 2 September 1910)
at the Albert Gleizes Albert Gleizes (; 8 December 1881 – 23 June 1953) was a French artist, theoretician, philosopher, a self-proclaimed founder of Cubism and an influence on the School of Paris. Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger wrote the first major treatise on ...
' ''Les Joueurs de football'' (1912),
Robert Delaunay Robert Delaunay (12 April 1885 – 25 October 1941) was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, co-founded the Orphism (art), Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works wer ...
's ''Football. L'Équipe de Cardiff'' (1916) and André Lhote's ''Partie de Rugby'' (1917). The 1928 Gold Medal for Art at the Amsterdam Olympics was won by Luxembourg's Jean Jacoby for his work ''Rugby''. In film, Ealing Studios' 1949 comedy '' A Run for Your Money'' and the 1979 BBC Wales television film '' Grand Slam'' both centre on fans attending a match. Films that explore the sport in more detail include independent production '' Old Scores'' (1991) and '' Forever Strong'' (2008). '' Invictus'' (2009), based on John Carlin's book ''Playing the Enemy'', explores the events of the
1995 Rugby World Cup The 1995 Rugby World Cup was the third Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's inter ...
and
Nelson Mandela Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; ; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African Internal resistance to apartheid, anti-apartheid activist who served as the President of South Africa, first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1 ...
's attempt to use the sport to connect South Africa's people post-
apartheid Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
. In public art and sculpture there are many works dedicated to the sport. There is a bronze statue of a rugby line-out by pop artist Gerald Laing at
Twickenham Twickenham is a suburban district in London, England. It is situated on the River Thames southwest of Charing Cross. Historic counties of England, Historically part of Middlesex, it has formed part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames ...
and one of rugby administrator Sir Tasker Watkins at the
Millennium Stadium The Millennium Stadium ( cy, Stadiwm y Mileniwm), known since 2016 as the Principality Stadium ( cy, Stadiwm Principality) for sponsorship reasons, is the national stadium of Wales. Located in Cardiff, it is the home of the Wales national rug ...
. Rugby players to have been honoured with statues include
Gareth Edwards Sir Gareth Owen Edwards Order of the British Empire, CBE (born 12 July 1947) is a Welsh people, Welsh former rugby union player who played Rugby union/scrumhalf, scrum-half and has been described by the BBC as "arguably the greatest player eve ...
in Cardiff and
Danie Craven Daniël Hartman Craven (11 October 1910 – 4 January 1993) was a South African rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the ...
in Stellenbosch.


See also

* Experimental law variations *
International Rugby Hall of Fame The International Rugby Hall of Fame (IRHOF) was a hall of fame for rugby union. It was created in 1997 in New Zealand and is run as a charitable trust with an address at Chiswick in London. Most of the trustees are also inductees. IRHOF acce ...
, now merged with the former IRB Hall of Fame * International rugby union eligibility rules * International rugby union player records * International rugby union team records *
List of international rugby union teams The following is a list of international rugby union teams: National teams – band classification Starting in 2008, in addition to the existing tier system, the IRB introduced a four-band system of classification in which unions are classifi ...
* List of oldest rugby union competitions * List of rugby union terms *
World Rugby Hall of Fame The World Rugby Hall of Fame (formerly the IRB Hall of Fame) recognises special achievement and contribution to the sport of rugby union. The World Rugby Hall of Fame covers players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and other ...
, a merger of the IRB and International Rugby Halls of Fame * Concussions in rugby union *
List of rugby union stadiums by capacity The following is a list of stadiums at which rugby union is played, ordered by seating capacity. Currently all stadiums with a capacity of 10,000 or more which are the regular home venue of a club or national team, or are the regular hosts of a maj ...


References


Notes


Footnotes


Sources

Printed sources * * * * * * * * * * * * * Electronic sources * *
Scrum.com Rugby guide


External links


International Rugby Board
nbsp;– official site of the sport's governing body
Rugby Data
nbsp;– rugby union statistics
Planet Rugby
nbsp;– news, fixtures, match reports, etc.
ESPN Scrum.com
nbsp;– news, match reports and statistics database
Top 10 international Rugby Teams in 2017
nbsp;– Top 10 international Rugby Teams in 2017 {{DEFAULTSORT:Rugby Union Ball games Former Summer Olympic sports Sports originating in England Team sports Rugby football variants Turf sports