FIRA – Association of European Rugby
|Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur – Association Européenne de Rugby|
The FIRA – Association Européenne de Rugby (FIRA–AER) is the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. It was formed in 1999 to promote, develop, organise and administer the game of rugby in Europe under the authority of the International Rugby Board (the world governing body of rugby union).
The predecessor to FIRA–AER was the Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA). FIRA was formed in 1934 to promote, develop, organise and administer the game of rugby union in Europe outside the authority of the International Rugby Football Board (as the International Rugby Board was then called), and quickly came to spread outside the continent. FIRA agreed to come under the auspices of the IRB in the 1990s, changed its name and returned to being a European body.
Until its eventual merger with the IRB, FIRA was the most multinational rugby organisation in the world, partly because the IRB had concentrated on the English speaking Home Nations, Tri Nations along with France. FIRA has generally been a positive force in spreading sport beyond the Anglosphere.
For many years, the sport’s authorities had suspected that the governing body of French rugby union, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) was allowing the abuse of the rules on amateurism, and in 1931 the French Rugby Union was suspended from playing against the other IRB nations.
As a result, Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) was founded in 1934. It was designed to organise rugby union outside the authority of the International Rugby Football Board (as it was known at the time). The founder members were Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Catalonia, Romania and Germany.
In 1965, FIRA inaugurated the FIRA Nation's Cup, and in 1974 the FIRA Championship, which provided international competition for European countries outside the Five Nations. This was played in three divisions, including virtually every country in Continental Europe. It would later expand its horizons, taking in Morocco, Tunisia and other non-European countries. France invariably entered a team into it, as well as the Five Nations, usually a France A-team, and Italy, before joining the Six Nations Championship also used to play in it. The Tier 2 nations of Georgia and Romania currently compete in the championship, as well, as Spain and Portugal both of whom have been in Rugby World Cups. The first division competition was won most often by France, but Romania won it at least five times, Italy once or twice and the Soviet Union won it once.
FIRA to FIRA–A.E.R. 
In 1990s the FIRA recognised the IRB as the governing body of rugby union world wide and after negotiations with the IRB, it agreed to integrate itself within the IRB. In 1999 it changed its name to "FIRA – Association of European Rugby" (FIRA–AER.), to promote and rule over rugby union in the European area and to run the junior world championship. FIRA-AER. organised both the under-19 and under-21 world championships until IRB folded them into the under-20 Junior World Championship and Junior World Trophy in 2008.
Member Unions 
44 Unions are full IRB members
2 Unions are associate IRB members
1 Union is not affiliated with the IRB
- Seniors Championship also known as European Nations Cup
- Women's European Championship
- European Regions Cup
- European VIIs Circuit
- European Sevens Championship also known as Sevens Grand Prix Series
- European Under-18 Rugby Union Championship
- European U20 Championship
- European U18 Tournament & Championship
- World U19 Championship (defunct)
- European U19 Tournament
- European U20 Tournament
- U21 Rugby Union World Cup (defunct)
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
- "Rugby" in Girling, DA (ed) Everyman's Encyclopedia (6th edition, 1978), vol. 5, (JM Dent & Sons Ltd, ISBN 0-460-04017-0)
- Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)
- Bath, p 27
- Girling (ed), p221
- Bath, p 28