HistoryUntil 1885 the laws of were made by England as the founder nation. However, following a disputed try in an international between and in 1884, letters were exchanged in which England claimed that they made the laws, and the try should stand. Scotland refused to play England in the 1885 Home Nations Championship. Following the dispute, the home unions of Scotland, Ireland and Wales decided to form an international union whose membership would agree on the standard rules of rugby football. The three nations met in Dublin in 1886, though no formal regulations were agreed upon. On 5 December 1887, committee members of the , Scottish Rugby Union (named the Scottish Football Union at the time) and met in Manchester and wrote up the first four principles of the International Rugby Football Board. England refused to take part in the founding of the IRFB, stating that they should have greater representation, as they had more clubs. The England Union also refused to accept the IRFB as the recognised lawmaker of the game. This led to the IRFB taking the stance of member countries not playing England until they joined, and no games were played against England in 1888 and 1889. In 1890 England joined the IRFB, gaining six seats while the other unions had two each. The same year, the IRFB wrote the first international laws of rugby union. In 1893, the IRFB was faced with the divide between and professionalism, which was nicknamed the "Great Schism". Following the introduction of working-class men to the game in Northern England, clubs began paying "broken time" payments to players, due to the loss of earnings from playing on a Saturday. Cumberland County Union also complained of another club using monetary incentives to lure players, leading to the IRFB conducting an enquiry. The IRFB was warned by all the chief clubs in Lancashire and Yorkshire that any punishment would lead to the clubs seceding from the union. The debate over broken time payments ultimately caused the 22 leading clubs in Yorkshire and Lancashire to form the Rugby Football League, Northern Rugby Football Union. The competing unions' laws of the game diverged almost immediately; the northern body's code eventually became known as rugby league football. England's seats on the IRFB were reduced from six to four in 1911. The Rugby Australia, Australian Rugby Union, New Zealand Rugby, New Zealand Rugby Football Union and South African Rugby Board joined the board with one seat each in 1948, with England's seats being reduced to two, the same as the other home nations. The three Southern Hemisphere unions were given a second seat each in 1958. The French Rugby Federation was admitted in 1978, the USA Rugby, USA Rugby Football Union in 1987, and the Argentine Rugby Union, Rugby Canada, Canadian Rugby Union, Italian Rugby Federation and Japan Rugby Football Union were admitted in 1991. In 2016, the Georgia Rugby Union, Romanian Rugby Federation, and USA Rugby, the USA were added to the voting Council with one vote each. Additionally, current Council members Argentina, Canada and Italy were granted a second representative and vote. The six regional associations represented on the Council also received an additional vote.
Rugby World CupIn the 1960s Australians Harold Tolhurst and Jock Kellaher suggested a World Rugby Championship be held in Australia but the IRFB refused. In 1983 and 1984 respectively, the Australian and New Zealand Rugby Football Unions each proposed hosting such a tournament. The following year the board committed to conduct a feasibility study. A year later another meeting took place in Paris, and the Union subsequently voted on the idea. The South African Rugby Board's vote that proved crucial in setting up a tied vote, as they voted in favour, even though they knew they would be excluded due to the Sporting boycott of South Africa during the Apartheid era, sporting boycott because of their apartheid policies. English and Welsh votes then changed, and the vote was won 10 to 6.
Member unionsMembership of World Rugby is a four-step process: # A Union must apply to become an associate member of its Regional Union # After all membership criteria are met, including one year as an associate member, the Union is admitted to the Regional Union as a full member # After completion of stages 1 and 2, and two years as a full member of a Regional Union, the Union may then apply to become an Associate member of World Rugby. As an associate member, the union can participate in World Rugby funded tournaments but not the Rugby World Cup # Following two years of associate membership of World Rugby, the union may then apply to become a Full Member Regional Unions Six regional associations, which represent each continent, are affiliated with World Rugby and help to develop the fifteen-a-side game as well as Rugby sevens across the world. Not all members of the regional associations are members of World Rugby. Below is a list of member and associate unions and their regional associations with the year that they joined World Rugby. Associate unions are in ''italics''. ----
AfricaThere are 19 World Rugby members and 5 World Rugby associates: Suspended unions: * Notes:
AsiaThere are 20 World Rugby members, and 7 World Rugby associates: The Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union was disbanded in 2010. Suspended unions: * Notes:
EuropeThere are 37 World Rugby members, and 4 World Rugby associates: Suspended unions: * Notes:
North AmericaThere are 11 World Rugby members, and 2 World Rugby associates: Notes:
South AmericaThere are 9 World Rugby members, and 2 World Rugby associate: Notes:
OceaniaThere are 12 World Rugby members:
Participation figuresWorld Rugby's largest members, ranked by number of participants in 2019, are:
CouncilThe World Rugby Council meets twice a year and manages and controls the affairs of World Rugby. The Council formulates and oversees the implementation of World Rugby's strategic plan and application of policy decisions, and selects the host nation(s) for the Rugby World Cup hosts, Rugby World Cup. The Council considers recommendations of the General Assembly. The Council may admit or expel member nations. The Council is also the supreme legislative authority of World Rugby. Most Council decisions require approval of simple majority, but to amend the World Rugby's by-laws, regulations, or the Laws of the Game requires approval of three quarters of the Council. Prior to 2016, the Council had 28 voting members from 12 national unions. In November 2015, World Rugby announced that they would add more unions to the voting council and give the six regional associations two votes each on the council. , the council had 52 members including the non-voting chairman, so there were 51 voting members from 18 national unions and 6 regional associations, allocated as follows: * (30) Ten unions with three votes each: , , , , , , , , , and . * (2) One union with two votes: . * (7) Seven unions with one vote each: , , , , , and . * (12) The six regional associations representing Rugby Africa, Africa, Asia Rugby, Asia, Rugby Europe, Europe, Rugby Americas North, North America, Sudamérica Rugby, South America and Oceania Rugby, Oceania with two votes each. In total, Europe has 22 votes; Oceania 10 votes; South America 6 votes; Africa 5 votes; North America 4 votes and Asia 4 votes. A Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected from among the council members. These positions are held by Bill Beaumont of England and Bernard Laporte of France, respectively, elected .
Executive CommitteeThe Executive Committee, in accordance with bye-laws 9.14–9.16, ensures the effective management and operation of the World Rugby. The Committee formulates and monitors the implementation of the World Rugby's strategic plan, business plan, operational plan and budget. In 2016, as part of the reforms to the World Rugby Council, the Executive Committee was increased to 12 members. The Chairman, Vice-Chairman, nine elected officials, including two independent members, and the Chief Executive sit on the World Rugby Executive Committee.
General AssemblyA General Assembly of the full membership is convened every two years. The General Assembly may make recommendations to the Council, and may consider business that the Council has referred to it, but the General Assembly has no legislative powers.Addleshaw Goddard, Putting Rugby First, July 2008, http://www.puttingrugbyfirst.com/downloads/Putting_Rugby_First.pdf
LeadershipThe Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the World Rugby are elected by the Council. The current chairman is Bill Beaumont, previously president of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). He was elected chairman effective on 1 July 2016 following the Executive Council vote on 11 May 2016. Previous chairmen include Bernard Lapasset (2008 to 2016), Syd Millar (2002 to 2007) and Vernon Pugh, QC (1994 to 2002). In July 2012, Brett Gosper was appointed as the new Chief Executive of what was then the IRB. He will leave this role at the end of 2020 to become head of the National Football League's operations in Europe and the UK.
FundingIn 2013 World Rugby released £18.6 million of funding over three years for developing rugby in Canada, the United States, Japan, Romania, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Argentina also received additional support to enable it to retain its tier one status. The money, built up from successful World Cups, was released following a report commissioned by World Rugby highlighting the growing disparity between tier one and tier two nations. This is in addition to the £10–12 million it normally gives out grants and tournament costs. The emphasis is on three areas infrastructure, high performance units and cross border competitions. In April 2006, tier-3 rugby nations Georgia, Portugal, Tunisia and Russia were identified as key investment nations over the next three years. The program was designed to increase the competitiveness of international rugby union.
TournamentsImage:Japan v Tonga at Kitakyushu.JPG, Japan playing Tonga in the Pacific Five Nations, 2006.
Rugby World CupsWorld Rugby organises the , which has been held every four years since 1987, the sport's most recognised and most profitable competition. Despite the profitability of the Rugby World Cup, the majority of its revenues and viewers come from a small number of countries. For the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, 87% of viewers came from the Five Nations (England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland), 15% came from the Tri-Nations (South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand), with just 2% of viewers coming from all other countries. The most recent Rugby World Cup was held in Japan in 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2019. South Africa defeated England 32–12 in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, final, winning their third title. World Rugby also organises the Rugby World Cup (women's), women's Rugby World Cup, also held every four years. It was first held by the IRB in 1998, though tournaments in 1991 and 1994 were retrospectively recognised in 2009. The women's World Cup is contested by fewer teams than the men's Cup, with only the 1998 and 2002 editions featuring more than 12 teams (these competitions both had 16 teams, compared to the 20 teams in the men's Rugby World Cup). The most recent women's Rugby World Cup was held in Ireland, with matches held both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, 2017. The four-year cycle was brought forward by a year to ease congestion in the sport's international calendar. The tournament was won by New Zealand, who defeated England 41–32 in the final. On 21 August 2019, WR announced that all future men's and women's World Cups would officially be known as "Rugby World Cup", with no sex or gender designations. The first tournament to be affected by this policy will be the 2021 Rugby World Cup, 2021 women's World Cup in New Zealand.
SevensWorld Rugby organizes three international sevens tournaments - two annual Sevens Series (one for World Rugby Sevens Series, men and one for World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, women), and a quadrennial Rugby World Cup Sevens. The men's season-long annual Sevens Series takes place over 10 legs, each held in a different country. The women's Sevens Series is held over five- or six-legs. Both tournaments follow the same principle—points are awarded based on a teams position in each round of the series, and the team with the most points at the end of the Series is crowned champions. Following the inclusion of rugby sevens into the Olympics, beginning with the 2014–15 series, the series prior to an Olympic event (i.e. the series which ends in the year before the Olympics takes place) forms the first phase of Olympic qualification. When Olympic Qualification is included, the top four teams from both the men's and women's series will qualify for the Olympic Games, and remaining teams will compete in regional competitions for one of the remaining places. The quadrennial Rugby World Cup Sevens includes both the men's and women's world cup tournaments. It was originally due to be discontinued after the inclusion of rugby sevens into the Olympic Programme. However, it was later decided to retain the tournament, as it involved a significantly larger number of teams than the Olympics would, and to move the tournament so as to create a more even sevens calendar (with the ''major'' sevens events alternating every two years). As a result, the most recent tournament was the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States, USA. The men's and women's competitions at this event were both won by New Zealand.
Developmental competitionsWorld Rugby organizes annual international competitions involving Tier 2 nations. * World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, Pacific Nations Cup, which has been played annually since 2006. The national teams of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga currently compete for the cup. At various times in the past, the national teams of Japan, Georgia, Canada, and the United States, plus second-tier representative sides from Australia and New Zealand, have also been involved. * World Rugby Pacific Challenge, Pacific Challenge, which is a competition involving the national "A" sides from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga (and more recently Junior Japan, Canada A, and Argentina's Pampas XV). * Americas Rugby Championship, whose current incarnation involves Argentina's "A" side, currently branded as Argentina XV national rugby union team, Argentina XV, and the full national teams of Brazil, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, and the USA.
Junior competitionsWorld Rugby organizes two competitions for under-20 national teams, the World Rugby Under 20 Championship and the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy. These competitions were created following the merger of under-19 and under-21 representative teams, into an under-20 age group
World Rugby Nations Championship
Current title holders
OlympicsThe sport of rugby union has been played at the Summer Olympics on four occasions, with the last being in 1924. The winners, and thus the reigning champions, were the United States national rugby union team, U.S. team. Rugby union made one more appearance as a demonstration event but was then removed from the Games. World Rugby has most recently been very keen to see it return to the Games and is adamant that the sport (specifically referring to rugby sevens) satisfies every respect of the criteria set out in the Olympic Charter. The main problem for reintroducing the 15-man game to the Olympics is the 7-day turnaround required by World Rugby regulations for players to rest between games. Since the Olympics only officially run for 16 days, with only slight expansions allowed to accommodate sports such as football, this effectively makes it impossible to conduct a 15s tournament within the current Olympic schedule. This limitation does not apply to sevens, as games last only 14 minutes (20 in championship finals) instead of the 80 minutes in the 15s game. All of the events in the current men's and women's Sevens Series, which feature a minimum of 16 national teams for men and 12 for women, are conducted within a single weekend. But in furthering the World Rugby cause, the organisation became an List of international sport federations#Association of the IOC Recognised International Sports Federations, Recognised International Federation in 1995, marked by a ceremonial signing by President Juan Antonio Samaranch prior to a match between Wales national rugby union team, Wales and South Africa national rugby union team, South Africa in Cardiff. World Rugby cites rugby union's global participation, with men playing the game in well over 100 countries and women playing in over 50 as well; the organisation's compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency, World Anti-Doping Code; and that a rugby sevens tournament could be (and generally is) accommodated in one stadium and is relatively inexpensive to play. Not only is the sevens game successful in the context of the Sevens World Series and World Cup Sevens, it is also very successfully played in the Commonwealth Games; the Rugby Sevens at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, sevens tournament at 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2006 Games in Melbourne set all-time attendance records for a sevens tournament. As a result of this, World Rugby applied to the for a Sevens tournament to form part of the Olympics. Subsequently, Sevens was accepted into the Summer Olympic Games and was first played in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Laws and regulationsThe Rugby union#Laws, laws of rugby union are controlled by a standing Laws Committee, which is established by the World Rugby Council. The current chairman of the committee is Bill Beaumont. The Laws of the Game are formulated by World Rugby, and are then circulated by the national Unions. The official laws of the game are written in English, French, Russian and Spanish. There are variations for under-19 and Sevens rugby. There are 21 regulations in total, these regulations range from definitions, eligibility, advertising, disciplinary, anti-doping and a number of other areas. World Rugby also approves equipment, which are tested at an Approved Testing House.
Experimental law variationsIn 2006, the IRB initiated proposals for variations to the laws, which were formulated and trialled initially at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Further trials were set down for 2007 and 2008. The law variations aimed to push the balance between defensive and attacking play more in favour of attacking play, and to reduce stoppages for penalties and infringements.
Anti-dopingWorld Rugby is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA code. The World Rugby anti doping programme includes testing at the under 19 and under 21 level, sevens and senior 15 a side. Testing is a mix of in-competition at World Rugby organised events, as well as out-of-competition testing, which can occur during a specified one-hour time slot designated by a player. In 2003, World Cup year, the World Rugby member unions undertook approximately 3,000 tests. "Keep Rugby Clean" is a campaign message run by the World Rugby Anti-Doping Manager Tim Ricketts. The programme is supported by stars such as Brian O'Driscoll.
World rankingsWorld Rugby publishes and maintains the World Rugby Rankings of the men's national rugby union teams (and more recently also for women's teams). The concept was launched in October 2003, at the start of 2003 Rugby World Cup, that year's world cup in Australia. The rankings are calculated using a Points Exchange system, whereby nations take points off each other based on a match result. Several years of research went into developing the rankings system, using an extensive database of international matches that date back to 1871. The system's reliability is assessed in a number of objective ways, which includes predictions of current strength and responds to changes in form. The system takes into account home advantage, in that the home nation is treated as though it has an extra three rating points, effectively handicapping them, as they will gain fewer ranking points for a win, and lose more should they lose. In the case of a freak result, there is a maximum number of movements on the ranking that any nation can gain from one match. If a nation does not play for a number of years they are considered dormant, and excluded from the rankings, upon returning, picking up from where they were excluded. If a nation is to merge or split, the highest rating of any of the rankings is inherited. Currently all capped international matches are equally weighted, whether or not they take place within a List of rugby union competitions#National tournaments, competition or are played as Test match (rugby union), tests; the sole exception to this is the World Cup final tournament.
Recognitions and awardsThe World Rugby Awards were introduced in 2001, to honour outstanding achievements in rugby union. Prior to 2009, all of the awards were announced at an annual ceremony; the most recent such ceremony was held in London on 23 November 2008. However, as a response to the Great Recession, the annual ceremony only saw the International Player, Team, and Coach of the Year Awards presented in 2009 and 2010; all other awards were presented at different times throughout the year. The IRB reinstated a single year-end ceremony in 2011 after the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Since then, it has chosen to present some awards at times relevant to those specific prizes—such as Sevens awards after the London Sevens, the final event of the Sevens World Series, and the Junior Player award after the final of the Junior World Championship. The bulk of awards will be presented at the year-end Awards ceremony. The current awards are: * IRB International Player of the Year, International Player of the Year * IRB International Team of the Year, International Team of the Year * IRB International Coach of the Year, International Coach of the Year * IRB International Sevens Team of the Year, International Sevens Team of the Year * IRB International Sevens Player of the Year, International Sevens Player of the Year * IRB International Junior Player of the Year, International Junior Player of the Year * IRB Women's Personality of the Year, Women's Personality of the Year * IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service * Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service * IRB Development Award * Spirit of Rugby Award At the year-end ceremony, the International Rugby Players' Association also hands out the following awards: * IRPA Try of the Year * IRPA Special Merit Award In the past, the following awards have also awarded: * IRB International U21 Player of the Year * IRB International U19 Player of the Year, IRB Under 19 Player of the Year * IRB Chairman's Award The awards that recognise achievements in the preceding 12 months tend to be won by that season's most successful nation(s): France in 2002, England in 2003, South Africa in 2004, New Zealand in 2005, South Africa again in 2007. For those award categories that have nominees, a shortlist is drawn up by an independent panel of judges, who are all former internationals. The panel then reconvenes to choose a winner. The current judges are Jonathan Davies (rugby player born 1962), Jonathan Davies, Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Michael Jones (rugby union), Michael Jones, Dan Lyle, Federico Méndez, Francois Pienaar and past Player of the Year winners Fabien Galthié and Keith Wood, with John Eales as convenor. The judges have a total of over 500 Cap (sport), caps between them. In 2006 a World Rugby Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame was established to chronicle the achievements and special contribution of the sport's players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and other individuals. The Hall of Fame was inaugurated at the 2006 IRB Awards, when William Webb Ellis and Rugby School were named as the first two inductees. Hall of Fame inductees in 2007 were Pierre de Coubertin, Danie Craven, John Eales, Gareth Edwards and Wilson Whineray. The 2008 inductees were the 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team and its organiser Joe Warbrick, Jack Kyle, Melrose RFC and Ned Haig (for their roles in the invention of rugby sevens), Hugo Porta, and Philippe Sella. Since then, induction ceremonies have been held annually, except in 2010. The last year for a single induction ceremony was 2009. Starting in 2011, ceremonies have been held at multiple locations around the world. Also, some or all of the inductions have had an overriding theme since 2009: * 2009 – British and Irish Lions, Lions tours to South Africa; all candidates for induction were either Lions or Springboks. * 2011 – The year's final set of inductions, held at the IRB Awards in Auckland on the night after the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final, 2011 World Cup Final, was, according to the IRB, "under the theme of Rugby World Cup founders, visionaries and iconic figures". * 2012 – The IRB's theme for this year's inductions was ''Rugby - a global Game'', "celebrat[ing] Rugby’s expansion to become a global sport played by millions of men and women worldwide."
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