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Rugby football is believed to have started in 1823 when a schoolboy, William Webb Ellis, picked up the ball in a local football game and ran with it.

Between then and 1871 when the Rugby Football Union was established, various rules applied at various venues making it difficult for teams to play against one another.

The RFU had their first meeting attended by 21 clubs at the Pall Mall restuarant in London, where a commitee of three lawyers, all from Rugby school, where given the task of setting out the rules. Being lawyers they referred to the rules as laws, and this has stuck through the ages. By June of 1871, the laws were ratified and their task complete, and 9 years later in 1880, Ireland, Scotland And Wales set up their own Unions.

At the 1900 Olympic games, in paris, rugby was played with France winning the Gold. 1903 saw New Zealand travel to Australia to play their first international, which was played at the Sydney cricket ground, and New Zealand went on to win that game 22 points to 3.

In 1905 the first New Zealand team toured the British Isles and won 31 of their 32 games played with 830 points for, and only 39 points against. It was during this tour that they got the name of the 'All Blacks'.

1908 saw the Australians tour The British Isles and after much debate and voting they are given the name 'Wallabies'. It was during this tour that referee A.O.Jones had to send Syd Middleton off the field for punching an opposing forward.

In 1910 the first international game was played at Twickenham between England and Wales, and in 1912 saw South Africa field a side with the three Luyt Brothers, a first in International rugby history.

1921 saw the introduction of numbering on jerseys by the Internatinal Rugby Board, and during the tour in 1924 to South Africa by a combined team from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales this combined team became known as the 'British Lions' because they all wore ties with the same emblem.

Captain H.Wakelam, in 1927, was the first person to broadcast a commentary on a rugby match which was between England and Wales.

Lord Bledisloe, Governer of New Zealand, donated the Bledisloe Cup in 1931 for a competition between New Zealand and Australia, which was won 20-13 by New Zealand, and has been played every year since.

In 1906 South Africa, captained by Paul Roos, had their first overseas tour to the British Isles and France. To prevent the British press from coming up with their own nicknames he invented the 'Springbok' name which has stuck ever since. Today they are sometimes referred to as 'The Bokke'.

South Africas international debut was in 1891 when a British Isles team toured. South Africa was intrumental in introducing the Rugby World Cup, played every 4 years, but unfortunately were not able to play in the first two competitions in 1987 and 1991. With a new political dispensation, South Africa was included in the 1995 world cup, which they won, beating the All blacks 15-12, and then repeated it in 2007 by beating England 15-6.

In 1902 during the 2nd Boer War in South Africa, a cease fire was negotiated so that a game between the English and the Boer forces was able to take place, showing just how popular rugby had become. South Africans are still sports crazy.

Rugby is truly an international sport with a growing participation from new countries and great spectator value. In the Southern Hemisphere international tests are played yearly between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, (Tri-Nations) as well as provincial games known as the Super 14.

In the north the 6 Nations is played by England, Ireland, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales, as well as their club games known as the Heineken Cup.

There are also tests played between Northern and Southern Countries including the Pumas from Argentina who have become quite a force recently, beating the French in the opening game of the 2007 world cup.

Games are normally played in two 40 minute halfs' with a 5 minute break in between, and controlled by a referee, assisted by two lines men. Recently a TMO (Television Match Official) has been brought in to officiate at times when none of the ground officials are able to clearly see when a try has been scored, or when their has been an infringement in the run of play.

With the growth experienced, a new branch of the game has developed in the formation of 7's rugby. This competition is played at various venues Internationally every year, and as suggests played by 7 team members. Games are restricted to 6 minutes per half and played at a frenetic pace, the game being a very exciting, heart pumping andrenalin rush.

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