Rugby Football - Forms of Rugby

Forms of Rugby

See also: Rugby union and Rugby league

There are two distinctively different forms of rugby – rugby union and rugby league. The basic rules of the game are the same, getting the ball over the line for a try. The rules for each of the forms, however are different.

Date Event
1400–1800 Many different types of football are played throughout Britain.
1830 Running with the ball became common in 1830s at Rugby School and Rugby School football became popular throughout the UK in the 1850s and 1860s.
1863 The Football Association (FA) is formed, formalising the schism between the Football Association and Rugby Football.
1861 Montevideo Cricket Club is founded in Montevideo, Uruguay. The first club to play rugby outside the British Islands.
1864 The first rugby clubs are formed, followed by hundreds more in Cumberland, Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 1870s and 1880s.
1871 The Rugby Football Union is founded, following a meeting of 21 clubs at the Pall Mall restaurant.
1871 First recognised international rugby match, played between England and Wales.
1876 Matthew Bloxam’s letter is published in "The Meteor". It claims William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, picked up the ball and invented rugby. A Rugby Union inquiry in 1895 found no proof, although it decided to perpetuate the myth.
1877 The number of players is reduced from 20 to 15 a side.
1883 First Home Nations Championship between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
1886 Concerned at the growing dominance of the largely working-class northern clubs, the Rugby Football Union introduces strict amateur rules.
1888 New Zealand Native football team tours Britain, Australia and New Zealand in 1888 and 1889.
1890 Modern points scoring is uniformly accepted by the Home Nations for the 1890/91 season.
1892 Charges of professionalism are laid against rugby football clubs in Bradford and Leeds, after they compensated players for missing work. This was despite the fact that the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) was allowing other players to be paid, such as the 1888 British Isles team that toured Australia, and the account of Harry Hamill of his payments to represent New South Wales (NSW) against England in 1904.
1893 Yorkshire clubs propose allowing players to be paid six shillings ‘broken-time’payments when they miss work due to matches. RFU votes down proposal. Widespread suspensions of northern clubs and players begin.
1895 A schism in rugby football results in the formation of the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). Many factors played a part in the split, including the success of working class northern teams, a decree by the RFU banning the playing of rugby at grounds where entrance fees were charged, threat of expulsion from the RFU if clubs cannot prove their amateurism, and the banning of "broken time payments" to players who had taken time off work to play rugby. Twenty-two clubs met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield and formed the "Northern Rugby Football Union". Within fifteen years of that first meeting in Huddersfield, more than 200 RFU clubs had left to join the Northern Union.
1897 To make the game more exciting, the Northern Union abolishes the line-out and reduces value of all goals to two points. Line outs were replaced with punting the ball back into play from the touch-line. Tries worth three points.
1897 The Challenge Cup is established and proves a success from the start. Batley became the first winners, beating Saint Helens 10–3.
1898 Professionalism is introduced in the Northern Union. The professionalism is strictly part-time, with players obliged to have other "proper" jobs.
1900 Rugby Union features at the 1900 Olympics. It finishes in the 1924 Olympics.
1901 The experiment in Rugby League with the punt-out ends after only four years. In future, play will be re-started with a scrum after the ball goes out of play.
1904 First Rugby League international match. England lose to Other Nationalities 3–9, at Wigan.
1905 Wales narrowly beat the first touring New Zealand Rugby Union team, dubbed "The Game of the Century".
1906 England play South Africa (known as the Springboks) in Rugby Union for the first time. James Peters is withdrawn from the England squad after the South Africans objected to playing against a black player.
1906 James Peters becomes the first black person to play for England Rugby Union, against Scotland.
1906 In Rugby League the number of players is reduced from fifteen to thirteen a side, in order to allow more room for creative play. The early form of play-the-ball is introduced as the game’s way of re-starting play after a tackle.
1907 Rugby League spreads to Australia and New Zealand. The New South Wales Rugby Football League is founded at Bateman's Hotel in Sydney. The New South Wales Rugby League sets up an eight team competition after a row with the Australian Rugby Union over compensation for injured players. The first Premiership is won by South Sydney. Rugby League goes on to displace Rugby Union as the primary football code in New South Wales and Queensland.
1907 New Zealand Rugby League team tours Britain. Albert Henry Baskerville, a Post Office clerk in New Zealand, organises a touring side branded the ‘All Golds’ in their homeland due to their open professionalism. They play under Rugby Union rules in Sydney on their way to Britain and persuade Australia’s greatest player Dally Messenger to join them on tour. They win the game’s first Test series 2–1, but Baskerville dies of pneumonia on the way home at the age of 25.
1908 First Australian Kangaroo tourists visit Britain. Hunslet become the first club to win all four trophies available to them—the Championship, the Challenge Cup, the Yorkshire Cup and the Yorkshire League. Hunslet were led by Albert Goldthorpe, a dominant figure in the early years of the code.
1910 The Rugby Union Home Nations Championship becomes the Five Nations Championship when France joins.
1910 First Northern Union British Lions tour Australia and New Zealand, winning their Tests in Sydney and Brisbane.
1912 South African Rugby Union tour of the British Isles and France. The tourists achieved a "Grand Slam" of victories over all five major European teams, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France.
1914 British tourists defeat Australia 14–6 to win Ashes in final test, finishing with only ten men in what becomes known as ‘Rorke’s Drift’ Test match.
1922 Northern Union changes its name to the Rugby Football League, the name used for the sport in Australia
1925 All Blacks Rugby Union tour of Britain, France, and Canada. The New Zealanders remained undefeated throughout the tour, earning the title "The Invincibles".
1929 First Rugby League Challenge Cup Final is played at Wembley. Wigan defeat Dewsbury 13–2 in front of 41,500.
1930 Rugby Union’s European Cup starts, outside the Five Nations. It is interrupted by WWII.
1930 Unprecedented fourth Rugby League test match played between Britain and Australia at Rochdale after third test is drawn 0-0. Britain win the test 3-0 to take the Ashes.
1932 First Rugby League match under floodlights.
1933 On New Year’s Eve, England and Australia play in Paris—the first game of Rugby League in France. The French had been excluded from the Rugby Union Five Nations amid allegations of professionalism, so the country was receptive to the new game.
1934 Rugby League is established in France by Jean Galia, former Rugby Union international and champion boxer. By 1939, the French league has 225 clubs.
1941 The French Vichy government bans Rugby League, because of its links with the Allies and a desire to ban all professional sports. The code’s funds and property are all confiscated or passed to Rugby Union clubs. Rugby Union is allowed to carry on unscathed and regains much of the ground it had lost to Rugby League. To this day, the Rugby League clubs' assets have never been returned to them.
1943 A Northern Command army Rugby League side defeats a Northern Command Rugby Union side 18–11 at Headingley playing Rugby Union rules. The following year a Combined Services Rugby League side beats a Combined Services Rugby Union side 15–10. These are the only League v Union matches played until 1996.
1944 With the fall of the Vichy Government, the French ban on Rugby League is lifted.
1945 Brian Bevan makes his Rugby League debut for Warrington. Over the next 16 seasons he scored 740 tries for the club in 620 games. His career total was 796, more than 200 ahead of his nearest rival.
1946 Lance Todd trophy first presented to Challenge Cup final man of the match. Wakefield’s Billy Stott is first winner. Lance Todd, killed in a car accident in 1942, was a 1907 NZ tourist who managed Salford from 1928–40.
1946 The most famous Rugby League tour of all, as the Lions sail to Australia on HMS Indomitable, stoking the boilers to keep fit. After a five day train journey across Australia, Gus Risman’s team retain the Ashes, drawing one and winning two Tests.
1949 French Rugby League is banned from using ‘rugby’ in its name. Changes its name to Jeu à Treize (Game of Thirteen).
1951 South American Rugby Union Championship commences.
1951 South African Rugby Union tour of the British Isles and France. South Africa achieved a second five-nation Grand Slam.
1951 Just a decade after being wound up, France win their first Rugby League series in Australia. They repeat the feat by winning again in 1955.
1951 Rugby League’s Cec Thompson becomes the first black player to represent Great Britain in any sport.
1952 Rugby Union’s European Cup restarts.
1954 102,569 spectators watch the 1953–54 Rugby League Challenge Cup final at Bradford, setting a new record for attendance at a rugby football match of either code.
1954 First Rugby League World Cup, the first for either code of rugby, staged in France. Great Britain beat France 16-12 in final at Parc des Princes, Paris.
1956 Springboks Rugby Union tour of New Zealand. South Africa suffer their first ever test series loss against New Zealand.
1957 Australia wins the Rugby League World Cup.
1958 Rugby League’s Cec Thompson becomes the first black manager of any sport in Britain.
1958 Great Britain defeat Australia 25-18 in the second Rugby League test match with only eight fit players on the pitch. Alan Prescott plays for 77 minutes with a broken arm.
1960 Great Britain wins the Rugby League World Cup. The tournament is decided on a league system.
1964 Substitutes allowed in Rugby League for the first time, but only for players injured before half-time.
1966 The Rugby League International Board introduces a rule that a team in possession is allowed three play-the-balls and on the fourth tackle a scrum is to be formed. The Southern hemisphere adopts the rule the following year, but it becomes six-tackle rugby in 1972, and in 1983 the scrum was replaced by a handover.
1967 Professional Rugby League adopts Sunday as its main match day, in a bid to reverse declining attendances.
1968 Substitutes allowed in Rugby Union for the first time, but only for injured players.
1969 Springbok Rugby Union tour to Britain and Ireland. The tour is marked by protests against apartheid; South Africa would not tour Europe again until after the end of apartheid.
1969 Rugby League finally gains recognition as a sport in British universities and colleges.
1970 Great Britain wins Rugby League’s Ashes in Australia, after winning the final two test matches.
1970 Rugby League’s World Cup attracts poor crowds in England. Australia win.
1971 New Zealand wins a Rugby League series in Britain for the first time.
1971 Lions Rugby Union tour of Australia and New Zealand. The Lions are the only team to have ever won a test series in New Zealand.
1971 Springbok Rugby Union tour of Australia is marked by protests.
1972 Timekeepers and sirens are introduced into Rugby League for first time.
1972 Great Britain regains the Rugby League World Cup in France.
1973 Rugby Union’s Barbarians defeat the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park.
1973 The British Amateur Rugby League Association sets itself up to run the sport at grassroots level after complaining of neglect by the RFL. Formal re-unification takes 30 years.
1974 Rugby Union’s Lions tour of South Africa. The notorious '99' call.
1975 Wales and England field separate teams in the Rugby League World Cup, played over several months in both hemispheres. Australia takes the trophy by finishing one point ahead of England in the final league table.
1976 New Zealand Rugby Union tour of South Africa. Twenty-eight nations boycott the 1976 Summer Olympics in protest against the International Olympic Committee's refusal to ban New Zealand from the games for defying the IOC's ban on sporting contact with South Africa.
1978 New Zealand Rugby Union tour of Britain and Ireland - New Zealand completes Grand Slam of victories over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the first time.
1980 Australia establishes Rugby League’s State of Origin format, where Queensland and New South Wales born players face each other. From 1982 onwards, it is played as a three match series and is recognised as the fiercest, toughest rugby in the world.
1981 The ‘Sin Bin’ is introduced into Rugby League, in Australia.
1981 Springbok Rugby Union tour of New Zealand.
1981 South Africa is banned by the International Rugby Board from international Rugby Union competition until such time as apartheid ended.
1982 Rugby Union’s Pacific Tri-Nations between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
1982 Australian Rugby League tourists win all tour games for first time and become known as 'The Invincibles'.
1983 Rugby League try is increased to four points. The character of the game changes further with the introduction of the turn-over possession on the sixth tackle, drastically reducing the number of scrums. The Sin Bin is introduced for offences that do not merit a sending off.
1983 The Rugby League international transfer ban is lifted.
1984 Australia Rugby Union tour of Britain and Ireland—Australia completes the Grand Slam of victories over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the first time.
1987 New Zealand Rugby Union defeats France 29–9 in the first Rugby Union World Cup, held in New Zealand and Australia.
1987 A "free gangway" between the two codes of rugby at amateur level is introduced, but individual cases of discrimination continues.
1987 The RFU introduces the Courage Leagues into Rugby Union—a league pyramid with roughly 1000 clubs playing in 108 leagues each with promotion and relegation.
1988 Rugby League’s Wigan start their run of eight Challenge Cup final victories. The modern version of the Team of All the Talents, featuring players like Ellery Hanley, Andy Gregory, Jason Robinson and Shaun Edwards dominate for a decade, winning three World Cup titles in the process.
1989 Widnes beat Canberra 30–18 in first official Rugby League World Club Championship.
1990 Russia takes up Rugby League. Russia goes on to appear in the 2000 World Cup and to enter club sides in the Challenge Cup.
1990 Blood-bin introduced into Rugby League.
1990 The ban on French Rugby League using ‘rugby’ in its name is lifted. It changes its name back to Rugby à Treize.
1991 Australia defeat England 12–6 at Twickenham, London, in the second Rugby Union World Cup, held in the British Isles and France.
1992 The Springboks are readmitted to international Rugby Union.
1992 73,631 at Wembley see Australia defeat Great Britain 10–6 in the Rugby League World Cup final.
1994 David Hinchcliffe MP introduces the Sports (Discrimination) Bill, to ban discrimination of amateur players of Rugby League and other sports.
1994 The three British Armed Services recognises Rugby League as a sport. Rugby League would be on the same footing as other sports in the Services.
1995 The International Rugby Board declares Rugby Union an 'open' professional game. It removes all restrictions on payments or benefits to those connected with the game.
1995 South Africa defeats New Zealand 15–12 (after extra time) at Ellis Park, Johannesburg in the third Rugby Union World Cup, held in South Africa.
1995 Rugby League centenary is celebrated by reviving the World Cup in Britain. Australia beat England 16–8 in the final at Wembley. Fiji, Tonga, South Africa and Western Samoa join the established nations in a successful tournament, whilst Ireland, Scotland, the USA, Russia, the Cook Islands, Moldova and Morocco all compete in an Emerging Nations World Cup.
1995 The Heineken Cup is formed as a competition for 12 Rugby Union European clubs.
1995 As part of the struggle for television rights in Australia, the RFL in Britain is offered £87 million by News Corporation to set up Rugby League’s Super League. The game agrees to switch to a summer season, with Paris St Germain joining leading British clubs in a 14 team competition.
1996 The RFL introduces video referees into Rugby League’s Super League.
1996 The Rugby Union’s Tri Nations Series begins between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
1996 Bath Rugby and Wigan RLFC, England's top union and league sides respectively, made history by playing against each other at both codes of rugby. The first match was at Maine Road, Manchester under League rules, Wigan beating Bath 82–6; then two weeks later the return match was held at Twickenham under Union rules, Bath 44 beating Wigan 19.
1997 In Australia, the Super League war came to an end, with News International and the Australian Rugby League agreeing to merge their competitions to create the National Rugby League
1998 Rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games commences.
1999 IRB Sevens World Series commences.
1999 Australia defeat France 35–12 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in the fourth Rugby Union World Cup, held in Wales with matches also being played in England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
2000 The IRB introduces the ‘Sin Bin’ into international Rugby Union, after being trialled on the domestic stage within the southern hemisphere's Super 12 competition.
2000 The IRB introduces the "Television Match Official" (TMO) into international Rugby Union, after being trialled on the domestic stage within the southern hemisphere's Super 12 competition.
2000 Rugby Union’s Courage League is replaced by the Zurich Premiership.
2000 The Rugby Union’s Five Nations becomes the Six Nations Championship, when Italy joins.
2000 New Zealand narrowly defeats Australia at Stadium Australia in Rugby Union, in front of a world-record crowd of 109,874.
2001 Lions Rugby Union tour of Australia. The Wallabies defeat the Lions in a series for the first time ever.
2003 Rugby Union’s Churchill Cup commences with Canada, the USA, and England Saxons (England "A") as permanent participants and one invited team (later three).
2003 England defeat Australia 20–17 (after extra time) at Stadium Australia, Sydney in the fifth Rugby Union World Cup, held in Australia.
2003 The Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) is created to promote the sport across Europe.
2006 French team Catalans Dragons are granted a Rugby League Super League licence.
2007 South Africa defeat England 15–6 at Stade de France, in the sixth Rugby Union World Cup, held in France with matches also being played in Scotland and Wales.
2008 Rugby League holds its first World Cup since 2000, with New Zealand defeating Australia in Brisbane by a score of 34-20 in the final to take their first Rugby League World Cup.
2011 New Zealand defeat France 8–7 at Eden Park, Auckland, in the seventh Rugby Union World Cup, held in New Zealand.
2011 14 teams qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup: Australia, England, New Zealand, Samoa, Wales, Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga, Cook Islands, Italy and United States of America.
2012 The Tri-Nations series is expanded to include Argentina, and is renamed The Rugby Championship.

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