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Rugby union was included as an event in the Olympic Games four times during the early 20th century. No international rugby games and union-sponsored club matches were played during the First World War, but competitions continued through service teams such as the New Zealand Army team.
The first officially sanctioned international rugby sevens tournament took place in at Murrayfield, one of Scotland's biggest stadiums, as part of the Scottish Rugby Union centenary celebrations.
The first World Cup Sevens tournament was held at Murrayfield in Rugby Sevens was introduced into the Commonwealth Games in and was added to the Olympic Games of Rugby union was an amateur sport until the IRB declared the game "open" in August shortly after the completion of the World Cup , removing restrictions on payments to players.
As a result of the expansion to four teams, the tournament was renamed The Rugby Championship. Each team starts the match with 15 players on the field and seven or eight substitutes.
The main responsibilities of the forward players are to gain and retain possession of the ball. Forwards play a vital role in tackling and rucking opposing players.
The front row consists of three players: two props the loosehead prop and the tighthead prop and the hooker. The role of the two props is to support the hooker during scrums, to provide support for the jumpers during line-outs and to provide strength and power in rucks and mauls.
The third position in the front row is the hooker. The hooker is a key position in attacking and defensive play and is responsible for winning the ball in the scrum.
Hookers normally throw the ball in at line-outs. The second row consists of two locks or lock forwards.
Locks are usually the tallest players in the team, and specialise as line-out jumpers. Locks also have an important role in the scrum, binding directly behind the three front row players and providing forward drive.
The back row, not to be confused with 'Backs', is the third and final row of the forward positions, who are often referred to as the loose forwards.
The two flanker positions called the blindside flanker and openside flanker, are the final row in the scrum. They are usually the most mobile forwards in the game.
Their main role is to win possession through 'turn overs'. The role of the number 8 in the scrum is to control the ball after it has been heeled back from the front of the pack, and the position provides a link between the forwards and backs during attacking phases.
The role of the backs is to create and convert point-scoring opportunities. They are generally smaller, faster and more agile than the forwards.
The half-backs consist of two positions, the scrum-half and the fly-half. The fly-half is crucial to a team's game plan, orchestrating the team's performance.
The scrum-half is the link between the forwards and the backs. There are four three quarter positions: two centres inside and outside and two wings left and right.
The centres will attempt to tackle attacking players; whilst in attack, they should employ speed and strength to breach opposition defences.
Their primary function is to finish off moves and score tries. The full-back is normally positioned several metres behind the back line.
They often field opposition kicks and are usually the last line of defence should an opponent break through the back line.
Points can be scored in several ways: a try , scored by grounding the ball in the in-goal area between the goal line and the dead-ball line , is worth 5 points and a subsequent conversion kick scores 2 points; a successful penalty kick or a drop goal each score 3 points.
Rugby goalposts are H-shaped and are situated in the middle of the goal lines at each end of the field. They consist of two poles, 5. The minimum height for posts is 3.
At the beginning of the game, the captains and the referee toss a coin to decide which team will kick off first.
Play then starts with a dropkick, with the players chasing the ball into the opposition's territory, and the other side trying to retrieve the ball and advance it.
The dropkick must make contact with the ground before kicked. If the ball does not reach the opponent's metre yard line 10 meters away, the opposing team has two choices: to have the ball kicked off again, or to have a scrum at the centre of the half-way line.
Games are divided into minute halves, with a break in the middle. In the knockout stages of rugby competitions, most notably the Rugby World Cup , two extra time periods of 10 minutes periods are played with an interval of 5 minutes in between if the game is tied after full-time.
If scores are level after minutes then the rules call for 20 minutes of sudden-death extra time to be played.
If the sudden-death extra time period results in no scoring a kicking competition is used to determine the winner. However, no match in the history of the Rugby World Cup has ever gone past minutes into a sudden-death extra time period.
Forward passing throwing the ball ahead to another player is not allowed; the ball can be passed laterally or backwards. Only the player with the ball may be tackled or rucked.
A "knock-on" is committed when a player knocks the ball forward, and play is restarted with a scrum. Any player may kick the ball forward in an attempt to gain territory.
When a player anywhere in the playing area kicks indirectly into touch so that the ball first bounces in the field of play, the throw-in is taken where the ball went into touch.
The aim of the defending side is to stop the player with the ball, either by bringing them to ground a tackle, which is frequently followed by a ruck or by contesting for possession with the ball-carrier on their feet a maul.
Such a circumstance is called a breakdown and each is governed by a specific law. A player may tackle an opposing player who has the ball by holding them while bringing them to ground.
Tacklers cannot tackle above the shoulder the neck and head are out of bounds ,  and the tackler has to attempt to wrap their arms around the player being tackled to complete the tackle.
It is illegal to push, shoulder-charge, or to trip a player using feet or legs, but hands may be used this being referred to as a tap-tackle or ankle-tap.
Mauls occur after a player with the ball has come into contact with an opponent but the handler remains on his feet; once any combination of at least three players have bound themselves a maul has been set.
When the ball leaves the side of the field, a line-out is awarded against the team which last touched the ball. Both sides compete for the ball and players may lift their teammates.
A scrum is a way of restarting the game safely and fairly after a minor infringement. A team may also opt for a scrum if awarded a penalty.
A scrum is formed by the eight forwards from each team crouching down and binding together in three rows, before interlocking with the opposing team.
The second row consists of two locks and the two flankers. Behind the second row is the number 8. This formation is known as the 3—4—1 formation.
There are three match officials: a referee, and two assistant referees. The referees are commonly addressed as "Sir".
Common offences include tackling above the shoulders, collapsing a scrum , ruck or maul, not releasing the ball when on the ground, or being offside.
Occasionally, infringements are not caught by the referee during the match and these may be "cited" by the citing commissioner after the match and have punishments usually suspension for a number of weeks imposed on the infringing player.
During the match, players may be replaced for injury or substituted for tactical reasons. Prior to , all substitutions, no matter the cause, counted against the limit during a match.
In , World Rugby changed the law so that substitutions made to replace a player deemed unable to continue due to foul play by the opposition would no longer count against the match limit.
The most basic items of equipment for a game of rugby union are the ball itself, a rugby shirt also known as a "jersey" , rugby shorts , socks, and boots.
The rugby ball is oval in shape technically a prolate spheroid , and is made up of four panels. The studs may be either metal or plastic but must not have any sharp edges or ridges.
Protective equipment is optional and strictly regulated. The most common items are mouthguards , which are worn by almost all players, and are compulsory in some rugby-playing nations.
Female players may also wear chest pads. It is the responsibility of the match officials to check players' clothing and equipment before a game to ensure that it conforms to the laws of the game.
The international governing body of rugby union and associated games such as sevens is World Rugby WR. Six regional associations, which are members of WR, form the next level of administration; these are:.
National unions oversee rugby union within individual countries and are affiliated to WR. Since , the WR Council has 40 seats. In addition, the six regional associations have two seats each.
The earliest countries to adopt rugby union were England , the country of inception, and the other three Home Nations, Scotland , Ireland and Wales.
The spread of rugby union as a global sport has its roots in the exporting of the game by British expatriates, military personnel, and overseas university students.
The first rugby club in France was formed by British residents in Le Havre in , while the next year Argentina recorded its first game: 'Banks' v 'City' in Buenos Aires.
Seven countries have adopted rugby union as their de facto national sport ; they are Fiji ,  Georgia , Madagascar ,    New Zealand ,  Samoa ,  Tonga  and Wales.
A rugby club was formed in Sydney, New South Wales , Australia in ; while the sport was said to have been introduced to New Zealand by Charles Monro in , who played rugby while a student at Christ's College, Finchley.
Several island nations have embraced the sport of rugby. In North America a club formed in Montreal in , Canada's first club. The city of Montreal also played its part in the introduction of the sport in the United States , when students of McGill University played against a team from Harvard University in Steve Thompson case could be a pivotal moment in rugby history The key issue will likely be whether these players would still have developed dementia, even if the governing bodies had acted reasonably Ben Cisneros 8 Dec , pm.
Chris Robshaw banned for four weeks as Barbarians players are punished for breaching coronavirus protocols By Telegraph Sport 8 Dec , pm.
Steve Thompson has dementia and cannot remember Rugby World Cup final Thompson is among eight players who intend to launch legal action for negligence in failing to protect them from the risks of concussions By Daniel Schofield 8 Dec , pm.
All Blacks right to feel aggrieved as World Rugby drop the ball with Team of the Decade choice Selections such as these always create a stir, but after a decade of dominance New Zealand could be forgiven for scratching their heads.
Charles Richardson 8 Dec , pm. Lions teams to take on South Africa: Our writers select their XVs for the first Test — and you can pick yours Should Warren Gatland opt for proven Lions performers or give youth a chance?
And what has changed since the Autumn internationals 8 Dec , am. Michael Lipman tragedy is far from isolated case of devastating impact of head injuries in rugby By Charles Richardson 7 Dec , pm.
Concussion is rugby's ticking time bomb and could be about to explode. Gavin Mairs 7 Dec , pm. The Inside Line. France v England How England experienced a blue nightmare in Paris.
Scotland v England The grubber that gifted England victory. England v Ireland How England's power pack broke Ireland. Argentina made a special alteration to their jersey to face the Wallabies on Saturday night in a classy move following a fan backlash.
The Wallabies have wowed Australian sport with a moment of absolute class in their historic first performance of an Indigenous national anthem.
Wallabies star Reece Hodge was left inconsolable after his nightmare played out all over again in Australia's dramatic draw with Argentina.
A Wallabies team still trying to figure out how to score tries against one of the best defensively teams in the world.
Harlequins v Bristol Bears Gallagher Premiership. Western Province v Griquas Currie Cup. Dragons v Cardiff Blues Guinness Pro Bulls v Lions Rugby Currie Cup.
Ospreys v Scarlets Guinness Pro Munster v Leinster Guinness Pro Sale Sharks v Wasps Gallagher Premiership. Connacht v Ulster Guinness Pro Rugby Union Historical Background In , during a school football match in the town of Rugby, a man by the name of William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran towards the opponent's goal.
Rules of The Game A match of Rugby Union involved two teams of 15 players each who compete to win more points than the opposing team. What Differentiates it From Rugby League?
Key Players and Teams New Zealand is considered to be the best Rugby Union team ever, so it comes as no surprise that some of the best players are from the country.
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This includes using previously collected information about your interests to select ads, processing data about what advertisements were shown, how often they were shown, when and where they were shown, and whether you took any action related to the advertisement, including for example clicking an ad.Rugby union, widely known simply as rugby, is a full-contact team sport that originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. The official site of World Rugby the governing body of Rugby Union with news, tournaments, fixtures, results, world rugby rankings, statistics, video, the Laws of the game, governance and contacts. Rugby Union Team of the Week: England dominate We pick the standout players from the weekend as England, France and Wales all won, the Premiership returned, and the Pumas and Wallabies drew. Read all the latest Rugby Union news and results on Telegraph Sport. Results, interviews, video and expert analysis. The latest Rugby Union news, live coverage, results, fixtures, tips, opinion and analysis from the Sydney Morning Herald.