Rugby union is a popular sport in Ireland, governed by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). The IRFU is organized to encompass all of Ireland, that is, it includes both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Initially, the responsibilities of the IRFU was split between two bodies, one, the Irish Football Union, dealt with clubs in Leinster, Munster, and parts of Ulster, and the Northern Football Union of Ireland dealt with clubs in the Belfast area (for those of you unfamiliar with Irish geography, it would take a Hamilton limo bus about an hour and a half to travel from Ulster to Belfast). Both of these organizations were founded in 1874. It was in 1879 that the IRFU was formed, amalgamating the two previous organizations. In 1886, the IRFU joined Scotland and Wales to found the International Rugby Football Board, which was joined by England in 1890.
The first ever international rugby match was held in Scotland in 1871, after a group of Scottish players challenged English players to a match. The English couldn’t very well refuse, so they agreed to play, and met the Scottish team in Edinburgh. The Scots defeated the English, and thus began an impressive history of Scottish rugby.
In 1873, the Scottish Football Union was founded in Glasgow (a fact I’ve never been allowed to forget, thanks to my friend’s very Glaswegian father, a huge rugby fan, who talks of nothing else as he works at event catering Niagara). The Union included eight teams, those being Glasgow Academicals, Edinburgh Academic Football Club, West of Scotland F.C., University of St Andrews Rugby Football Club, Royal Highschool FP, Merchistonians, Edinburgh University RFC, and Glasgow University. Continue reading “Rugby in Scotland”
Wales is very serious about their rugby. Rugby union is, in fact, their national sport, and they’ve had quite some time to develop their skills as a country. The sport supposedly reached Wales in the 1850s, having come from England with Reverend Professor Rowland Williams, from Cambridge College to St. David’s College, and in 1881, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) was formed.
The game was initially popularized by alumni of Welsh colleges and those who had gone to English colleges and come back home to the large cities in South Wales. The popularity of the sport grew further with the success of four South Wales clubs, including Newport, Cardiff, Llannelli, and Swansea. The game was carried over, as if the best limo services Raleigh NC took them to other regions in style. Thanks to the development of coaches and limo buses which took people and the game to the industrial cities of the south of the country.
In England, rugby is split into rugby league and rugby union. You may be inclined to think that these two bodies govern two different leagues of the same sport. Alternatively, you may think that the former, rugby league, concerns itself with the actual playing of the game, and the latter, rugby union, deals with the legal stuff, like the rights of the players and coaches, etc. If you thought either of those things, you’d be wrong.
Rugby league and rugby union are actually two separate sports, and have been since soon after a rather dramatic schism in the late 1800s. A bit of background. Initially in England, there was just one league, called the Rugby Football Union (RFU), formed in 1871. All was well for about twenty years, until 1892, when football clubs in Bradford and Leeds (both located in the North of England, for those of you less than familiar with English geography) were accused of paying some of their players for missing work to play rugby.
This issues was particularly prominent in the North because most of the players in the northern part of the country were of the working class, as opposed to those who played in the south, so their time away from work and injuries contracted during play had a much more significant impact on their lives (if you work providing plumbing services and get a back injury, for example, it’s much more detrimental to your lively hood than if you are a student in London). Continue reading “Rugby in England”