Rugby Union

Rugby union, or simply Rugby, is a full contact team sport, an appearance of football which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the codes of rugby football, it is based on operation with the ball in hand.

It is played with an oval-shaped ball, out-of-doors on a level field, usually with a grass surface, up to 100 meters (330 ft) long and 70 meters (230 ft) wide. On each goal line are H-shaped goal posts. The origin of rugby football is reputed to be an incident through a game of English school football at Rugby School in 1823 when William Webb-Ellis is said to have picked up the ball and run with it. Although this tale is legendary, the Rugby World Cup trophy is named after him.

Rugby football stems from the form of game played at Rugby School, which old pupils initially took to university; Old Rugbeian Albert Pell, a student at Cambridge, is attributed with having formed the first 'football' team.

During this early period different schools used different rules, with former pupils from Rugby and Eton attempting to carry their favorite rules through to their universities. The International Rugby Board (IRB) has been the governing body for rugby union since its arrangement in 1886. Currently, 115 national unions are members of the IRB. In 1995, the IRB removed restrictions on payments to players, creation the game candidly professional at the highest level for the first time.

The Rugby World Cup, first held in 1987, takes place every four years, with the winner of the tournament receiving the Webb Ellis Cup. The Six Nations in Europe and the Tri Nations in the southern hemisphere are major international competitions held annually. Major domestic competitions include the Top 14 in France, the Aviva Premiership in England, the Currie Cup in South Africa, and the ITM Cup in New Zealand. Other transnational competitions include the Magners League, connecting Irish, Scottish and Welsh teams (and Italian teams from 2010?11); the Super 14 (to become the Super 15 in 2011), involving South African, Australian and New Zealand teams; and the Heineken Cup, involving the top European teams from their individual domestic competitions.