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Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. Rugby is simply 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, 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 in 1863 and, in 1895, the split between rugby union and rugby league. 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.[1]

Rugby union spread from the Home Nations of Great Britain and Ireland, with other early exponents of the sport including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France. The sport is followed primarily in the British Isles, France, Georgia, Oceania, Southern Africa, Argentina, and to a lesser extent Italy, Uruguay, the United States,[2][3][4] Canada, and Japan, its growth occurring during the expansion of the British Empire and through French proponents (Rugby Europe) in Europe. Countries that have adopted rugby union as their de facto national sport include Fiji, Georgia, Madagascar,[5] New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, and Wales.

International matches have taken place since 1871 when the first game was played between Scotland and England at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh. The Rugby World Cup, first held in 1987, is held every four years. The Six Nations Championship in Europe and The Rugby Championship 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 in France, the Bunnings NPC in New Zealand, the League One in Japan and the Currie Cup in South Africa. Other transnational club competitions include the United Rugby Championship of club teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales, European Rugby Champions Cup in Europe, and Super Rugby Pacific in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

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See also[]

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  • Experimental law variations
  • International Rugby Hall of Fame, 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
  • List of oldest rugby union competitions
  • List of rugby union terms
  • World Rugby Hall of Fame, a merger of the IRB and International Rugby Halls of Fame
  • Concussions in rugby union
  • List of rugby union stadiums by capacity




  1. Scianitti, Matthew (18 June 2011). "The world awaits for Canada's rugby team". National Post. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  2. "U.S Rugby Scholarships – U.S. Sports Scholarships". Archived from the original on 15 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  3. "Rugby: Fastest growing sport in the U.S. also one of the oldest – Global Sport Matters, Rugby: Fastest growing sport in the U.S. also one of the oldest – Global Sport Matters". 19 July 2018. Archived from the original on 1 November 2021. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  4. "Madagascar take Sevens honours". International Rugby Board. 23 August 2007. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2013.


Printed sources

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  • Encyclopedia Canadiana vol. 8. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal: Grolier of Canada. 1972. ISBN 0-7172-1601-2.
  • Bath, Richard, ed. (1997). Complete Book of Rugby. Seven Oaks Ltd. ISBN 1-86200-013-1.
  • Biscombe, Tony; Drewett, Peter (2009). Rugby: Steps to Success. Human Kinetics.
  • Bompa, Tudor; Claro, Frederick (2008). Periodization in Rugby. Meyer and Meyer Sport.
  • Brown, Mathew; Guthrie, Patrick; Growden, Greg (2010). Rugby For Dummies. John Wiley and Sons.
  • Godwin, Terry; Rhys, Chris (1981). The Guinness Book of Rugby Facts & Feats. Enfield: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-214-0.
  • Griffiths, John (1987). The Phoenix Book of International Rugby Records. London: Phoenix House. ISBN 0-460-07003-7.
  • Marshall, Howard; Jordon, J.P. (1951). Oxford v Cambridge, The Story of the University Rugby Match. London: Clerke & Cockeran.
  • Midgley, Ruth (1979). The Official World Encyclopedia of Sports and Games. London: Diagram Group. ISBN 0-7092-0153-2.
  • Thomas, J.B.G.; Rowe, Harding (1954). On Tour. Essex: Anchor Press Ltd.

Electronic sources

External links[]

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