n. A form of the game of rugby, often amateur, having 15 players per side; points are scored for a try, penalty, drop kick or conversion.
Rugby union, or simply rugby, is a contact team sport which 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. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players (two more than rugby league) using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts on each try line.
In 1845, the first football laws were written by Rugby School pupils; other significant events in the early development of rugby include the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the Football Association in 1863 and the split between rugby union and rugby league in 1895. Historically an amateur sport, in 1995 restrictions on payments to players were removed, making the game openly professional at the highest level for the first time.
World Rugby, originally the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) and from 1998 to 2014 the International Rugby Board (IRB), has been the governing body for rugby union since 1886. Rugby union spread from the Home Nations of Great Britain and Ireland, and was absorbed by many of the countries associated with the British Empire. Early exponents of the sport included Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Countries that have adopted rugby union as their de facto national sport include Fiji, Georgia, Madagascar, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Wales. Rugby union is played in over 100 countries across six continents; there are 101 full members and 18 associate members of World Rugby.
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 Championship in Europe and The Rugby Championship in the Southern Hemisphere are major annual competitions.
Major domestic competitions include the English Premiership in England, Top 14 in France, the Mitre 10 Cup in New Zealand and the Currie Cup in South Africa. Other transnational competitions include the Pro12, involving Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams; the European Rugby Champions Cup, involving the top European teams from their respective domestic competitions; and Super Rugby, launched in 1996 with Australian, New Zealand and South African teams and since 2016 also including teams in Argentina and Japan.