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The history of rugby union follows from various football games played long before the 19th century, but it was not until the middle of that century that rules were formulated and codified.

The code of football later known as rugby union can be traced to three events: the first set of written rules in 1845; the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the The Football Association in 1863 and; the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The code was originally known simply as "rugby football"; it was not until a schism in 1895, which resulted in the separate code of rugby league, that the name "rugby union" was used for the game itself. Rugby union officially stuck to its ideals of amateurism despite widespread indirect and unofficial payments to rugby union players and it was not until 1995 that the game became openly professional.


Early history

Rugby School
This stone
commemorates the exploit of
William Webb Ellis
who with a fine disregard for the rules of football
as played in his time
first took the ball in his arms and ran with it
thus originating the distinctive feature of
the rugby game.
A.D. 1823

Playing football has been a long tradition in England and versions of football had probably been played at Rugby School for two hundred years before three boys published the first set of written rules in 1845. The rules had always been determined by the pupils and not the masters and they were frequently modified with each new intake. Rules changes, such as the legality of carrying or running with the ball, were often agreed shortly before the commencement of a game. There were thus no formal rules for football during the time William Webb Ellis was at the school (1816–25) and the story of the boy "who with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it" in 1823 is apocryphal. The story first appeared in 1876, some four years after the death of Webb Ellis, and is attributed to a local antiquarian and former Rugbeian Matthew Bloxam. Bloxam was not a contemporary of Webb Ellis and vaguely quoted an unnamed person as informing him of the incident that had supposedly happened 53 years earlier. The story has been dismissed as unlikely since an official investigation by the Old Rugbeian Society in 1895. However, the cup for the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis trophy in his honour, and a plaque at the school commemorates the "achievement".

Rugby football has strong claims to the world's first and oldest "football club": the Guy's Hospital Football Club, formed in London in 1843, by old boys from Rugby School. Around the anglosphere, a number of other clubs formed to play games based on the Rugby School rules. One of these, Dublin University Football Club, founded in 1854, has arguably become the world's oldest surviving football club in any code. The Blackheath Rugby Club, in London, founded in 1858 is the oldest surviving non-university/school rugby club. Cheltenham College 1844, Sherborne School 1846 and Durham School 1850 are the oldest documented school's clubs. Francis Crombie and Alexander Crombie introduced rugby into Scotland via Durham School in 1854.

The schism between the Football Association and Rugby Football

The Football Association (FA) was formed at the Freemason’s Tavern, Great Queen Street, on Lincoln Inn Fields, London, on 26 October 1863, with the intention of framing a code of laws that would embrace the best and most acceptable points of all the various methods of play under the one heading of football. At the beginning of the fourth meeting, attention was drawn to the fact that a number of newspapers had recently published the Cambridge rules of 1863. The Cambridge rules differed from the draft FA rules in two significant areas, namely 'running with the ball' and 'hacking' (kicking an opponent in the shins). The two contentious draft rules were as follows:

IX. A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound; but in case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark he shall not run.
X. If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time.


At the fifth meeting, a motion was proposed that these two rules be expunged from the FA rules. Francis Maule Campbell, a member of the Blackheath Club, argued that hacking is an essential element of "football" and that to eliminate hacking would "do away with all the courage and pluck from the game, and I will be bound over to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week’s practice".[3] At the sixth meeting, on 8 December, Campbell withdrew the Blackheath Club, explaining that the rules that the FA intended to adopt would destroy the game and all interest in it. Other rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the Football Association.

1871 engraving of the game.

The forming of the first Rugby Union

On 4 December 1870, Edwin Ash of Richmond and Benjamin Burns of Blackheath published a letter in The Times suggesting that "those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play." On 26 January 1871 a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London at the Pall Mall Restaurant.

The 21 clubs present at the meeting were: Blackheath (represented by Burns and Frederick Stokes the latter becoming the first captain of England)[4], Richmond, Ravenscourt Park, West Kent, Marlborough Nomads, Wimbledon Hornets, Gipsies, Civil Service, The Law Club, Wellington College, Guy’s Hospital, Flamingoes, Clapham Rovers, Harlequin F.C., King's College Hospital, St Paul's, Queen’s House, Lausanne, Addison, Mohicans, and Belsize Park. The one notable omission was the Wasps. According to one version, a Wasps' representative was sent to attend the meeting, but owing to a misunderstanding, was sent to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day; another version is that he went to a venue of the same name where, after consuming a number of drinks, he realised his mistake but was too drunk to make his way to the correct venue.

As a result of this meeting the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was founded. Algernon Rutter was elected as the first president of the RFU and Edwin Ash was elected as treasurer. Three lawyers who were Rugby School alumni (Rutter, Holmes and L.J. Maton) drew up the first laws of the game which were approved in June 1871.

First international game

Scotland First Rugby Team wearing brown[5] in 1871 for the 1st international, vs England in Edinburgh, Scotland won by 1 goal & 1 try to 1 try.
The First England Team, 1871, in the 1st international, vs Scotland in Edinburgh.

The first international rugby football game resulted from a challenge issued in the sporting weekly Bell's Weekly on 8 December 1870 and signed by the captains of five Scottish clubs, inviting any team "selected from the whole of England" to a 20-a-side game to be played under the Rugby rules. The game was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, the home ground of Edinburgh Academicals, on 27 March 1871. The English team wore white with a red rose and the Scots brown[5] with a thistle. Three international matches played according to Association Football rules had already taken place at the Oval, London, in 1870 and 1871.

The team representing England was captained by Frederick Stokes of Blackheath, that representing Scotland was led by Francis Moncrieff; the umpire was Hely Hutchinson Almond, headmaster of Loretto College. England played in all white, with a red rose on their shirts; Scotland wore brown shirts and white cricket flannels.

The game, played over two halves, each of 50 minutes, was won by Scotland, who scored a goal (a try followed by a successful conversion kick). Both sides also scored a try, but these did not count as the conversion kicks were missed.[6]

In a return match at the Kennington Oval, London, in 1872, England were the winners.

The forming of the International Rugby Football Board

In 1884 England had a disagreement with Scotland over a try that England had scored but that the referee disallowed citing a foul by Scotland. England argued that the referee should have played advantage and that, as they made the Law, if they said it was a try then it was. The International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) was formed by Scotland, Ireland and Wales in 1886 but England refused to join since they believed they should have greater representation on the board because they had a greater number of clubs. They also refused to accept that the IRFB should be the recognised law maker of the game. The IRFB agreed that the member countries would not play England until the RFU agreed to join and accept that the IRFB would oversee the games between the home unions. England finally agreed to join in 1890. In 1930 it was agreed between the members that all future matches would be played under the laws of the IRFB. In 1997, the IRFB moved its headquarters from London to Dublin and a year later it changed its name to the International Rugby Board (IRB).


Evolution of modern rules

Changes to the laws of the game have been made at various times and this process still continues today.

The number of players was reduced from 20 to 15 a side in 1877

Historically, no points at all were awarded for a try, the reward being to "try" to kick the ball over the posts. The first points scoring system was created in 1889.

The balance in value between tries and conversions has changed greatly over the years. Until 1891, a try scored one point, a conversion two. For the next two years tries scored two points and conversion three, until in 1893 the modern pattern of tries scoring more was begun with three points awarded for a try, two for a kick. The number of points from a try increased to four in 1971 and five in 1992.

Penalties have been worth three points since 1891 (they previously had been worth two points). The value of the drop goal was four points between 1891 and 1948, three points at all other times.

The goal from mark was abandoned in 1971, having been worth three points, except between 1891 and 1905 when it was worth four.

Until the late 1860s rugby was played with a spherical ball with an inner-tube made of a pig's bladder. In 1862 Richard Lindon introduced rubber inner-tubes and because of the pliability of rubber the shape gradually changed from a sphere to an egg. In 1892 the RFU endorsed ovalness as the compulsory shape. The gradual flattening of the ball continued over the years. In the 1980s leather-encased balls, which were prone to water-logging, were replaced with balls encased in synthetic waterproof materials.[7]

The schism between union and league

For more details see History of rugby league

It is believed that Yorkshire inaugurated amateurism rules in 1879; their representatives along with Lancashire's, are credited with formalising the RFU's first amateur rules in 1886. Despite popular belief, these Northern bodies were strong advocates of amateurism, leading numerous crusades against veiled professionalism. However, conflict arose over the controversy regarding broken time, the issue of whether players should receive compensation for taking time off work to play. The northern clubs were heavily working class, and thus, a large pool of players had to miss matches due to working commitments, or forego pay to play rugby. In 1892, allegations of player payments were directed at the Bradford and Leeds clubs, not the first allegation towards these northern bodies, nor was it unheard of for southern clubs to be faced with similar circumstances. The RFU became concerned that these broken time payments were a pathway to professionalism.

On 29 August 1895, at a meeting at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, 20 clubs from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire decided to resign from the RFU and form the Northern Rugby Football Union, which from 1922 was known as the Rugby Football League. In 1908, eight clubs in Sydney, Australia, broke away from union and formed the New South Wales Rugby League. The dispute about payment was one which at the time was also affecting soccer and cricket. Each game had to work out a compromise; rugby's stance was the most radical. Amateurism was strictly enforced, and anyone accepting payment or playing rugby league was banned. It would be a century before union legalised payments to players and would allow players who had played a game of league (even at an amateur level) to play in a union game.

Summer Olympics

Pierre de Coubertin, the revivor of the modern Olympics, introduced rugby union to the Summer Olympics at the 1900 games in Paris. Coubertin had previous associations with the game, refereeing the first French domestic championship as well as France’s first international. France, the German Empire and Great Britain all entered teams in the 1900 games. France won gold defeating both opponents. The rugby event drew the largest crowd at that particular games. Rugby was next played at the 1908 games in London. A Wallaby team, on tour in the United Kingdom, took part in the event, winning the gold, defeating Great Britain. The United States won the next event, at the 1920 Summer Olympics, defeating the French. The Americans repeated their achievement at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, again defeating France in a tournament marred by controversies surrounding the rivalry between the two teams. Though rugby had attracted bigger crowds than the track and field events in 1924, it was dropped from next Games and has not been included since.

World War I

The Five Nations Championship was suspended in 1915 and was not resumed until 1920. One hundred and thirty-three international players were killed during the conflict. The Queensland Rugby Union was disbanded after the war and was not reformed until 1929; NSW took responsibility for rugby union in Australia until the formation of the ARU in 1949.

Centenary of rugby

As 1923 approached, there were discussions of a combined England and Wales XV playing a Scottish-Irish team in celebration of when William Webb Ellis picked up the football and ran with it in 1823. The planned game was controversial in that there was a disagreement over whether it should be held at Rugby School, or be played at Twickenham, where an obviously larger crowd could witness the match. In the end, the match was taken to Rugby School.[8]

Interesting times 1931–47

In 1931 Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand, donated a trophy for competition between Australia and New Zealand. The Bledisloe Cup became one of the great rivalries in international rugby union.

For many years, the sport's authorities had suspected that the French governing body, the French Rugby Federation (FFR), was disregarding abuses of the rules on amateurism, and in 1931 the FFR was suspended from international competition. Looking around for an alternative, many French players turned to rugby league, which soon became the dominant game in France, particularly in the south west of the country.

In 1934 the Federation Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) was formed at the instigation of the French. It was designed to organise rugby union outside the authority of IRB. In the 1990s the organisation recognised the IRB as the governing body of rugby union world wide and became in 1999 FIRA - Association of European Rugby an organisation to promote and rule over rugby union in the European area.

In 1939 the FFR was invited to send a team to the Five Nations Championship for the following season, but when war was declared, international rugby was suspended. Eighty-eight international rugby union football players were killed during the conflict.

During World War II, the RFU temporarily lifted its ban on rugby league players, many of whom played in the eight "Internationals" between England and Scotland that were played by Armed Services teams under the rugby union code. The authorities also allowed the playing of two "Rugby League v Rugby Union" fixtures as fund-raisers for the war effort. The rugby league team (which included some pre-war professionals) won both matches, which were held under union rules.

After the defeat of France in 1940, the French Rugby Union authorities worked with the German collaborating Vichy regime to re-establish the dominance of their sport. Rugby union's amateur ethos appealed to the occupier's view of the purity of sport and rugby league, along with other professional sports was banned. Many players and officials of the sport were punished, and all of the assets of the Rugby League and its clubs were handed over to the Union. The consequences of this action reverberate to this day; the assets were never returned, and although the ban on rugby league was lifted, it was prevented from calling itself "rugby" until the mid 1980s, having to use the name Jeu à Treize (Game of Thirteen, in reference to the number of player in a rugby league side)[9]

In 1947 the Five Nations Championship resumed with France taking part.


In 1948 the worth of a drop goal was reduced from 4 points to 3 points.

In 1949, the Australian Rugby Union was formed and took over the administration of the game in Australia from the New South Wales Rugby Union.

Long after William Webb Ellis had become engraved as a legend in the history of rugby union, his grave was finally located in October 1959.

In 1971 Scotland appointed Bill Dickinson as their head coach, after years of avoidance, as it was their belief that rugby should remain an amateur sport. The 1971 Springbok tour to Australia was famous for its political protests against South Africa's apartheid system. The 1970s were a golden era for Wales with the team capturing five Five Nations titles and dominating the Lions selections throughout the decade. In the middle of the decade, after overseeing the rise in popularity of rugby union in the United States, members bodies met in Chicago in 1975 and formed the United States of America Rugby Football Union, today known as USA Rugby.

The 1981 Springbok Tour to New Zealand was also marked by political protests and is still referred to by New Zealanders as The Tour. The tour divided New Zealand society and rugby lost some of its prestige, which was not restored until New Zealand won the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup. In 1983, the WRFU (Women's Rugby Football Union) was formed, with 12 inaugural clubs, the body being responsible for women's rugby in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. In 1984 the Wallabies completed their first grand slam, defeating all four home nations, and announcing their emergence as a power in world rugby.

The Rugby World Cup

The first Rugby World Cup was played in 1987. New Zealand hosted the tournament, with some games, including both semi-finals, being played in Australia. The All Blacks defeated France in the final to record their only World Cup success.

In 1991, England hosted the second tournament, losing to Australia in the final.

The World Cup of 1995 proved to be a turning point for the game. The competition was held in South Africa, newly readmitted from international exile. Rugby's first superstar emerged when giant wing Jonah Lomu scored four tries for the All Blacks against England. South Africa, who had not been allowed to compete in the first two tournaments, won the final, beating the All Blacks 15-12, the winning score coming from a drop-goal by Joel Stransky. South African President Nelson Mandela, dressed in a Springbok jersey (long a symbol of apartheid) bearing the name and number (6) of South Africa's captain Francois Pienaar, handed him the William Webb Ellis Trophy.

The 1999 Rugby World Cup was held in Wales and was won by Australia, who defeated France in the final after the latter had come from behind to record a shock win against tournament favourites, the All Blacks, at the semi-final stage.

In 2003, Australia hosted the tournament and reached the final for the third time. In a closely-fought game, which went into extra time, Australia narrowly lost to England, thanks to a last-minute drop goal by Jonny Wilkinson.

Though France was the host nation for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, several games were played in Edinburgh and Cardiff, and France found itself playing its quarter-final in Wales, against the All Blacks, who had started the tournament as odds-on favourites. In a repeat of 1999, France gained a shock win, consigning the favourites to their worst result in World Cup history. France went on to lose against England at the semi-final stage. England, in turn, lost in the final to the Springboks, who equalled Australia's record of two World Cup wins. The breakthrough team in that competition was Argentina, which had previously been viewed as a strong team on an international scale, but perhaps not quite to the level of the traditional world powers. The Pumas began their coming-out party with a narrow win over France in the opener, and also defeated Ireland to finish atop their pool. They would lose in the semifinals to South Africa, but rebounded with a comprehensive win over France in the third-place game. This result led to calls to include the Pumas in one of the major hemispheric national team competitions (the Six Nations or Tri Nations); ultimately, it was decided that the Pumas would be steered toward a future place in the Tri Nations.

The professional era

On 26 August 1995 the International Rugby Board declared rugby union an "open" game and thus removed all restrictions on payments or benefits to those connected with the game. It did this because of a committee conclusion that to do so was the only way to end the hypocrisy of shamateurism and to keep control of rugby union. The threat to rugby union was especially large in countries where rugby league had a significant following. In particular, the Australian Super League competition was threatening to entice players to rugby league from rugby union (which was still amateur) with large salaries.[10]

Thirteen-man rugby league has shown itself to be a faster, more open game of better athletes than the other code. Rugby union is trying to negotiate its own escape from amateurism, with some officials admitting that the game is too slow, the laws too convoluted to attract a larger TV following.

Ian Thomsen, The New York Times, October 28, 1995[11]

SANZAR was formed in 1995 by the New Zealand, Australian and South African Rugby Unions to try to counter the Super League threat.[12] SANZAR proposed a provincial competition with teams from all three countries; this competition became the Super 12 and later the Super 14. Their proposals also included an annual competition between each country's Test teams, the Tri Nations Series. They were eventually able to get backing for the competition from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, with a contract totaling $550 million (US) for ten years of exclusive TV and radio broadcasting rights. The deal was signed during the 1995 Rugby World Cup and revealed at a press conference on the eve of World Cup final.[13]

SANZAR's proposals were however under serious threat from a Sydney-based group called the World Rugby Competition (WRC). WRC was formed by lawyer Geoff Levy and former Wallaby Ross Turnbull; both wanted a professional worldwide rugby competition funded by Kerry Packer.[14] At one point the WRC had a majority of the All Blacks and Wallaby teams signed up to their competition. In addition to this the Springboks had signed the WRC contracts but had decided not to hand them over. With the three national Unions struggling to sign up their test players, the WRC hit problems when the South African players, recently crowned World Champions, decided not to hand over the WRC contracts and signed up with the South African Rugby Union:[15] the players had been told they would never play for their country again if they committed to WRC.[16] Most of the All Blacks then followed their Springbok counterparts by signing with their Union. The Australians, realising that without the New Zealanders and South Africans WRC's proposal could not succeed, relented and signed for the Australian Rugby Union.[17]

The Heineken Cup was formed in 1995 as a competition for 12 European clubs. Today the competition includes teams from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The century-old competition for the top European rugby nations became the Six Nations Championship in 2000 with the addition of Italy.

The key benefit for rugby union was that professionalism would eliminate the constant defection of union players who were attracted to the money of rugby league. The rugby union authorities of the time also hoped that as players could now play in either code, in the long term most of the sponsorship and interest would gravitate away from league to the more international game of union. However, rugby union has not managed to lure away more than a handful of elite players from rugby league, as the two codes have become quite different over the decades of separation in both culture and in aspects of play. The preferred body type and skill sets of players differ, especially in the play of the forwards. With access to players of different types, some more suited to one code and some to the other, some English rugby union clubs such as Harlequins have even formed partnerships with a rugby league club which play in the premier rugby league competitions. In some countries rugby union's administration and structure have not developed along with its professionalism. In Australia the constant flow of rugby union juniors to rugby league clubs has slowed, but Australian rugby union has failed to successfully promote a club or franchise league below the elite level. With professional club games every weekend, Australian rugby league has maintained its dominance.

The many smaller unions across the globe have struggled (both financially and in playing terms) to compete with the major nations since the start of the open era. In England whilst some teams flourished in the professional era others such as Richmond, Wakefield, Orrell, Waterloo and London Scottish found the going much harder and have either folded or dropped down to minor leagues.

Alterations to the laws of rugby union were trialled by students of Stellenbosch University in South Africa in 2006, and have been adopted in competitions in Scotland and Australia since 2007, though only a few of the rules have been universally adopted. The law variations are an attempt to make rugby union easier to understand by referees, fans and players, but the laws are controversial and are far from being endorsed by all members of these groups.[1]


The scoring system used in rugby has changed many times over the years. In the original games scoring a "touch down" allowed the team to "try" a kick at goal. This is the derivation of the word "try" to describe a touch down in Rugby Union. Prior to 1890 each of the Home Unions had their own point scoring systems. A try scored in Scotland was worth 2 points whilst a try scored in England was worth 1 point. One of the first tasks undertaken by the International Rugby Football Board, formed in 1890, was to introduce a standard point scoring system. One point was awarded for a try, two points for a successful kick at goal after scoring a try (a conversion) and three points for a dropped goal or for a penalty goal. Most of the changes have been to increase the value of tries compared to goals (conversions, penalties, dropped-goals, and goals from mark) in order to promote positive, attacking play.

Date Try Conversion Penalty Dropped-goal Goal from mark
1890–1891 1 point 2 points 3 points 3 points -
1891–1894 2 points 3 points 3 points 4 points 4 points
1894–1904 3 points 2 points 3 points 4 points 4 points
1905–1947 3 points 2 points 3 points 4 points 3 points
1948–1970 3 points 2 points 3 points 3 points 3 points
1971–1977 4 points 2 points 3 points 3 points 3 points
1977–1991 4 points 2 points 3 points 3 points -
1992–present 5 points 2 points 3 points 3 points -

Timeline of the foundation of national rugby unions

The first national rugby union was the Rugby Football Union, founded in England in 1871. This was followed over the next decade by the Scottish, Irish and Welsh Rugby Unions. In Australia, the Southern Rugby Union (later the New South Wales Rugby Union) and the Northern Rugby Union (later the Queensland Rugby Union) were formed in 1874 and 1883 respectively, before eventually helping form the Australian Rugby Union in 1949. Both South Africa and New Zealand formed their Unions before the end of the 19th century. The white South African Rugby Board merged with the non-racial South African Rugby Union in 1992 following the fall of apartheid. The other traditional rugby power, France, formed the French Rugby Federation in 1919.

Important international competitions

  • 1883: First Home nations Championship between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
  • 1910: The Home Nations Championship becomes the Five Nations Championship when France joins.
  • 1987: First Rugby World Cup.
  • 1996: The Tri Nations Series begins between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • 2000: The Five Nations becomes The Six Nations Championship when Italy joins.

List of Rugby World Cup Finals

For more details see the article Rugby World Cup

Notable games

  • 1871: First recognised international match, played between England and Scotland at Raeburn Place.
  • 1878: First contest between England and Scotland for the Calcutta Cup.
  • 1886: Wales trial the four threequarter system for the first time, in the 1886 Championship. Although a failure at the time, by 1894 all Home Nation teams had adopted the formation.
  • 1905: Wales narrowly beat the first touring New Zealand team, dubbed 'The Game of the Century'.
  • 1951: Cardiff RFC play Newport RFC in front of a world-record crowd of 48,500.[18]
  • 1963: Newport RFC are the only team to beat New Zealand (3-0) on their tour of the British Isles.
  • 1967: Llanelli RFC beat Australia at Stradey Park.
  • 1972: Llanelli RFC beat New Zealand 9-3 at Stradey Park. The Day the Pubs Ran Dry
  • 1973: The Barbarians defeat the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in "that game" (video of game available under the Millennium Stadium)[19][20]
  • 1978: Irish provincial side, Munster, defeat the All Blacks 12-0 at Thomond Park. It is the All Blacks only defeat on the 1978 tour.
  • 1995: Jonah Lomu scores 4 tries for the All Blacks against England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
  • 1995: Joel Stransky scores an extra-time drop goal for South Africa to defeat the All Blacks in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.
  • 1999: Stephen Larkham scores an extra-time drop goal for Australia to defeat South Africa in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
  • 1999: France upsets the heavily-favoured All Blacks in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-finals.[21]
  • 2000: New Zealand narrowly defeats Australia at Stadium Australia in front of a world-record crowd of 109,874.[22]
  • 2003: Jonny Wilkinson of England kicks a drop goal in the dying seconds of extra-time to defeat the Wallabies in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.
  • 2007: England beat Australia and France beat New Zealand 12-10 and 20-18 respectively, on the same day, in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
  • 2009: Irish provincial sides Leinster and Munster play in the semi final of the Heineken Cup in front of a world record crowd for a club game at the home of Gaelic Games, Croke Park. Leinster run out winners against the holders and favourites Munster 25-6 and would go on to defeat English side Leicester Tigers in Murrayfield in the final.[23]

Notable tours

See also

  • Richard Lindon "(1816-1887) Inventor of the True Rugby Ball, the Inflatable Bladder and Brass hand pump."
  • McGill University - Athletics The inventions of North American football, hockey, rugby and basketball are all related to McGill in some way. In 1865, the first recorded game of rugby in Canada (and North America) occurred in Montreal, between British army officers and McGill students.


  1. ^ Peter Shortell. Hacking - a history, Cornwall Referees Society, 2 October 2006
  2. ^ John Simkin. Ebenezer Cobb Morley, Spartacus Educational. Accessed 22 May 2008
  3. ^ Staff.World Rugby Chronology,World Rugby Museum. Retrieved 2008-11-10. See 1 December 1863 – 5th FA meeting.
  4. ^ Steve Lewis, One Among Equals, page 9, 2008, (Vertical Editions:London)
  5. ^ a b Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Tuesday, March 28, 1871; Issue 9746
  6. ^ Richards, Huw (2006). A Game for Hooligans. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 9781845962555.  
  7. ^ Blood, mud and aftershave in The Observer Sunday 5 February, 2006, Section B is for Ball by Oliver Price
  8. ^ "CENTENARY OF RUGBY FOOTBALL MATCH 1923". Retrieved 18 May 2006.  
  9. ^ Hugh Schofield French rugby league fights for rights BBC web site. History of jeu a treize
  10. ^ Howitt (2005) page 8
  11. ^ Ian, Thomsen (28 October 1995). "Australia Faces England at Wembley : A Final of Rugby Favorites". The New York Times ( Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  12. ^ Howitt (2005) page 9
  13. ^ Howitt (2005) page 12
  14. ^ Howitt (2005) page 10
  15. ^ Howitt (2005) page 18
  16. ^ Howitt (2005) page 15
  17. ^ Howitt (2005) page 20
  18. ^ Parry-Jones, David (1989). The Rugby Clubs of Wales. pp. 96. ISBN 0091738504.  
  19. ^ History of the Barbarians: The greatest game...? BBC, 21 May, 2003
  20. ^ vidio, The greatest try of all time, YouTube
  21. ^ Rob Hodgetts (a BBC reporter), Deja vu for KO'd Kiwis, 7 October, 2007, "The French triumph in 1999 was arguably the most remarkable match in the sport’s history"
  22. ^ Tim Brimblecombe Greatest game ever? on website of Sportal Ltd., 17 July 2000 about opening Tri-nations game between Australia and New Zealand played on 15 July 2000.
  23. ^ Leinster reached their first Heineken Cup Final as they shocked tournament favourites Munster in front of a world-record crowd for a club match.


  • RFU History: Short history of rugby, Museum of Rugby, RFU, Twickenham
  • Howitt, Bob (2005); SANZAR Saga: Ten Years of Super 12 and Tri-Nations Rugby, Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 1-86950-566-2.
  • FitzSimmons, Peter (2003); The Rugby War, Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-7322-7882-1.
  • Collins, Tony (2009); A Social History of English Rugby Union, Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-47660-7.

External links

General histories

Specific histories and events


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