- Rhymes: -ʌɡə(r)
Rugby union (short for rugby union football) is an outdoor sport played with a prolate spheroid-shaped ball by two teams of 15 players. It is one of the two main codes of rugby football, the other being rugby league. In both codes, there is also a seven-a-side variant, called rugby sevens, which is played under modified rules and is faster. Rugby union is often referred to as simply rugby, rugger , or egg chasing. It is sometimes known as football, or, in countries where rugby league is also played, as union.
OverviewA rugby union match lasts for 80 minutes, with a short interval (not more than 10 minutes) after the first 40 minutes; at under-19 level and below, games are limited to a maximum of 70 minutes, with an interval after 35 minutes. A match is controlled by a referee, who is assisted by two touch judges or assistant referees. For professional matches, a television match official (TMO), commonly called the video referee is often employed, usually to advise the referee on matters pertaining to the scoring of tries and dropped goals.
The object of the game is to score as many points as possible. The team that scores the greater number of points is the winner.
Points are awarded for scoring a try or kicking a goal. A try, which is worth 5 points, is scored when the ball is grounded by a player on the attacking team within the opponent's in-goal area. A goal is scored by kicking the ball over the crossbar of the opponent's goal while remaining between the posts.
There are three ways to score a goal: (i) a dropped goal (scored in open play where the ball must hit the ground immediately before it is kicked); (ii) a penalty goal (awarded after the opposing side infringes against the laws of rugby and may be kicked from a stationary ground position or by drop kick); and (iii) a conversion (awarded after a try is scored) by either a drop kick or a place kick. A penalty or dropped goal is worth 3 points; a conversion is worth 2 points.
The pitch must be no more than 100 meters in length, not including the in-goal area. The depth of the in-goal area can vary but must be at least 10 meters (where practicable) and no more than 22 meters. The width of the pitch may also vary but must be no more than 70 meters wide. The goal posts are situated on the centre of the goal line with the upright posts placed 5.6 meters apart and the crossbar is placed 3 meters above the ground in an 'H' shape. The overall height of the goal posts must be over 3.4 meters.
A typical passage of rugby takes the following form: the team in possession of the ball moves the ball up the field in an effort to ground the ball over the opponents' goal-line in order to score a try until such time as the ball carrier is tackled. They then form a ruck in order to win the ball back. This process repeats until one team loses possession, makes a mistake that violates the Laws of the game, moves off the field of play or a try or goal is scored.
The team in possession may choose to advance by kicking the ball forward. The ball may be passed from one player to another as long as the ball is not thrown forward. Rugby union is one of the few ball games where the ball cannot be passed forward. Any team mate nearer the opposition goal than the ball-carrier is off-side and must not interfere with play, meaning that American football-style blocking is forbidden.
The team not in possession attempts to stop the ball carrier by tackling them, which consists of grabbing hold of them and bringing them to ground. A tackled player must pass or release the ball, allowing the opposition to contest possession of the loose ball. Play does not stop unless there is an infringement of the laws, or the ball / ball-carrier leaves the field of play.
If the ball goes into touch (out of the field of play), the game restarts with a line-out. If the game stops because of an infringement, play restarts with either a scrum, free kick or penalty kick (depending on the severity of the infringement) awarded to the non-infringing team.
Tries are the main form of scoring, and the primary aim of most teams is to score tries. Drop goals and penalty kicks are usually augmenters, a safer option against a steadfast defense or to punish ill-disciplined opposition. On some (usually rare) occasions, a team may be awarded a penalty try, if their opponents commit a foul which is deemed by the referee to have prevented a probable try.
Governing bodiesseealso International Rugby Board The recognised international governing body of rugby union (and associated games, such as sevens) is the International Rugby Board (IRB). The IRB headquarters are located in Dublin, Ireland.
Six regional associations are members of the IRB; these are:
- Africa: Confederation of African Rugby (CAR)
- Asia: Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)
- North America & West Indies: North America and West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA)
- Europe: FIRA - Association Européenne de Rugby (FIRA-AER)
- Oceania: Federation of Oceania Rugby Union (FORU)
- South America: Confederación Sudamericana de Rugby (CONSUR)
National unions oversee rugby union within individual countries. These are affiliated both with the IRB and with their respective regional association.
WorldwideRugby union has established itself as a popular sport, particularly in Australia, Argentina, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Wales. Other countries with a long tradition of rugby, although as a minority sport, include the USA, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Moldova, Portugal, Spain and numerous African countries. For example, the USA are the reigning Olympic champions, from the Paris Olympics in 1924 (the last year rugby was played as an Olympic sport), when they beat France in the final. Rugby union is gaining popularity in Italy following its acceptance into the Six Nations. Japan unsuccessfully bid to host the 2011 World Cup losing to New Zealand. Rugby union also has a following in North America, with both Canada and the USA regularly qualifying for the World Cup. One of the attractions of rugby union is the great diversity in playing styles that have been adopted by the various countries that play the game. This diversity of styles of play is partially due to the varying interpretations of the laws of the game. Perhaps the greatest influence on styles of play is the playing environment which can vary according to the local climate.
The International Rugby Board (IRB), founded in 1886, governs the sport worldwide and also publishes the game's laws and rankings. There are currently 95 full members and eight associate member countries. According to IRB figures, rugby union is played in over 100 countries spanning six continents by men and women of all ages. The IRB controls the Rugby World Cup, the Women's Rugby World Cup, Rugby World Cup Sevens, IRB Sevens World Series, Junior World Championship, Junior World Trophy and the Super Cup. It holds votes to decide where all of these events shall be held, except in the case of the Sevens World Series. For that competition, the IRB contracts with several national unions to hold individual events.
Records of women's rugby go back over 100 years - the first mentions of the game being in New Zealand in 1891 and France ten years later. In the past 30 years, however, the game has expanded massively and (according to the RFU) it is now played in over 80 countries worldwide.
Major international competitionssee details List of rugby union competitions The most important tournament in rugby union is the Rugby World Cup, a men's tournament that takes place every four years between the elite national rugby union teams. South Africa are the current world champions, winning the 2007 tournament held in France. They beat England, who were attempting to become the first country to retain the title, having won it in 2003. The fact that four different countries have won the World Cup confirms the level of competition in the tournament, creating intense interest from supporters, the media and major sponsors. Major international competitions in the northern and southern hemisphere are the Six Nations Championship and the Tri Nations Series, respectively.
The Six Nations is an annual competition involving northern hemisphere teams nrut England, nrut France, nrut Ireland, nrut Italy, nrut Scotland and nrut Wales. Each country plays the other five once, the modern tournament traces its roots to the first ever international game, when England lost by one goal to Scotland at Inverleith Park, adjacent to Raeburn Place, Edinburgh in 1871. In the 1880s, Wales and Ireland joined to create the Home International Championships. France joined the tournament in the 1900s and in 1910 the term Five Nations first appeared. However, the Home Nations (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) excluded France in 1931 amid a run of poor results, allegations of professionalism (rugby union was officially amateur until 1995) 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 one of which was played in 1947. In 2000, Italy became the sixth nation in the contest. Argentina have long been rumoured to be interested in joining the 6 Nations but their geographical location and various other factors combine to make it look extremely unlikely, in the near future anyway. Since their strong performances in the 2007 World Cup a number of commentators believe they should join the Tri-Nations with New Zealand, Australia and World Cup champions South Africa.
The Tri Nations is an annual international rugby union series held between the southern hemisphere teams of nrut Australia, New Zealand and nrut South Africa. The series 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 rather than two. In 2007 the teams played each other only twice, as it was a World Cup year. The IRB had been brokering a deal which could have seen nrut Argentina admitted to the competition in 2008, but it was later confirmed that the Tri Nations would not be expanded until at least 2010. Amidst all the rugby union competitions are also the autumn and summer Tests, which take place between September to December and June to August. These are played by the major rugby union nations on a home or away basis.
Rugby union had a brief stint at the Olympic Games. As per Olympic rules, the nations of Scotland, Wales and England were not allowed to play separately as they are not sovereign states.
Women's RugbyWomen's International Rugby began in 1982. Over six hundred women's internationals have now been played by over forty different nations. As well as the women's World Cup event (which takes place every four years), there are also other regular tournaments, including a Six Nations run in parallel to the men's competition.
In the British militaryThe earliest record of rugby being played in the Army was during the Crimean War (1854-56). In its early days rugby was very much the preserve of the officers; it was not until the early 1870s that the game became inclusive of all ranks.
The Royal Navy and in particular the British Army did much to spread rugby worldwide as it did for two other sports of English origin; cricket and football. Army regiments stationed throughout the British Empire had regimental teams who played locally. Whilst serving in India the 3rd (East Kent) Regiment (The Buffs) and the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's) both had a hand in the conception of the Calcutta Cup, the oldest trophy in the history of international rugby.
The Army Navy Match, which is currently played at Twickenham each year was first played in 1878, but did not become an annual event until 1909.
In 1905 the Royal Navy Rugby Union (RNRU) was formed and the Army Rugby Union the following year (1906), both service unions were affiliated to the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on their formation.
Women's rugby was introduced into the British Armed Services in the early 1990s.
VariantsThere are two major variants:
- Touch rugby, a version of rugby in which 'tackles' are made simply by touching an opponent, is gaining popularity.
- Rugby Sevens (invented in Melrose, Scotland); there are a number of Sevens tournaments throughout the world, and they frequently allow smaller nations to shine, which do not do so well at 15-a-side.
- List of rugby union terms
- List of notable rugby union footballers in alphabetical order
- List of international rugby union teams
- Women's International Rugby
- International Rugby Hall of Fame
- Rugby union at the Summer Olympics
- Rugby Sevens
- Touch rugby
- Comparison of rugby league and rugby union
- Stellenbosch Laws
External linkssisterlinks Rugby union Official
- RugbyUnionRules covers the latest news on a wide range of Rugby Topics
- Prime Rugby is a Rugby News website covering all major rugby tournaments
- The Rugby Forum is the largest independent rugby discussion site on the internet
- FOXSPORTS.com.au |Rugby
- Rugby Heaven world rugby from an Australian viewpoint
- BBC SPORT |Rugby union
- The Rugby World Cup Unofficial RWC news & results
- RugbyRugby.com World rugby news
- TriNationsweb.com TriNations Rugby union news and results
- Planet Rugby for news on rugby union
- Scrum.com Rugby union news and results
- World cup web.com Rugby world cup news and results
- Super14.com Super 14 Rugby union website includes news and results
- Gwlad Rugby Welsh Rugby union website includes news and discussion
- http://www.usarugby.org/default.asp site concentrating on the upcoming evolution of rugby in America
- MediaZone Rugby Full length Live and On Demand coverage of Super 14, June Tours, Tri Nations, Currie Cup, Air NZ Cup and more.
- Rugby Data Statistics on International Rugby Union games
- Rugby Links WorldWide Rugby Directory Resources Database
- Rugby union phrase guide
- Rugbydump.com Rugby videos, tackles, big hits, great tries and more
- Crouch and Hold Rugby Interactive Coaching, Training Videos, and more
- Rugble.com Search the world of rugby.
rugger in Afrikaans: Rugby
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rugger in Esperanto: Rugbeo
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rugger in Croatian: Rugby union
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rugger in Polish: Rugby union
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