Rugby is effectively two quite different forms of sport: the more popular rugby union, and the lesser-played variant rugby league. The sport originated in England in the 1800s but is now played all around the world. Here’s a list of fun rugby facts.
- Rugby was developed in a town named Rugby, in the English county of Warwickshire: The sport was invented by a group of three friends at Rugby School who wrote the rules for the game in 1845.
- Across the street from Rugby School were the premises of a bootmaker by the name of Richard Lindon: Lindon is credited with having invented the oval shaped rugby ball as well as the inflatable bladder inside it.
- The first Rugby League World Cup was held in 1954, in Paris, following a proposal by the French Rugby League: The final was contested between Great Britain and France; the Great Britain team would be triumphant. It was not until 1987 that the first rugby union world cup was held.
- In 1969, the South African team – known as the Springboks – would tour Britain and Ireland: The matches were interrupted by protests against apartheid in South Africa. The Springboks would not return to Britain and Ireland again until after the end of apartheid in the 1990s.
- Seven years later, New Zealand’s rugby union team caused controversy by touring South Africa: As a result, 29 nations boycotted the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games in protest that the IOC did not ban New Zealand from attending the games.
- Despite the apartheid controversy, it would not be until 1981 that the International Rugby Board officially banned South Africa from international competitions: The ban would remain in place until 1992 following the end of apartheid.
- The world record attendance for a game of either rugby union or league was set in 2000: The match was the opener of the Tri Nations series and was contested between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney’s Stadium Australia. 109,874 would watch New Zealand defeat Australia.
- According to data from 2016, approximately 8.5 million people around the world play rugby union: The sport has enjoyed rapid growth, with the number of players doubling since 2011. Approximately 22% of players are currently female.
- Dan Carter, a member of New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby union team, holds the record for most points scored as an international player (1,442): New Zealand also holds the record for the player with the most international games (Richie McCaw – 148 appearances).
- The highest scoring international match in rugby history was held in 1994 when Hong Kong defeated Singapore: Hong Kong obliterated the Singaporean team with a final scoreline of 164 to 13.