Rugby Football Union
|Patron||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Men's coach||Stuart Lancaster|
|Women's coach||Gary Street|
|Sevens coach||Ben Ryan|
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871 as the governing body for the sport of rugby union, and performed as the international governing body prior to the formation of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1886. It has since functioned within England as a society to promote and run the sport, including organising international matches for the England national team, educating and training players and officials and acting as the governing body for England.
The RFU is structured as an industrial and provident society, owned by over 2,000 member clubs, representing over 2.5 million registered players, and forms the largest rugby union society in the world, and one of the largest sports organisations in England. It is based at Twickenham Stadium, London.
In September 2010 the women's rugby body the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was integrated into the RFU as a "constituent body", and whilst it retains some independence within the organisation, its adoption of RFU structures and management effectively unify the men's and women's sport under a single governing body.
Formation of the first Rugby Union
On 4 December 1870, Edwin Ash of Richmond and Benjamin Burns of Blackheath published a letter in The Times suggesting that "those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play." On 26 January 1871 a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London at the Pall Mall Restaurant on Regent Street.
The 21 clubs present at the meeting were: Blackheath (represented by Burns and Frederick Stokes, the latter becoming the first captain of England), Richmond, Ravenscourt Park, West Kent, Marlborough Nomads, Wimbledon Hornets, Gipsies, Civil Service, The Law Club, Wellington College, Guy’s Hospital, Flamingoes, Clapham Rovers, Harlequin F.C., King's College Hospital, St Paul's, Queen’s House, Lausanne, Addison, Mohicans, and Belsize Park. The one notable omission was the Wasps. According to one version, a Wasps' representative was sent to attend the meeting, but owing to a misunderstanding, was sent to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day; another version is that he went to a venue of the same name where, after consuming a number of drinks, he realised his mistake but was too drunk to make his way to the correct venue.
As a result of this meeting the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was founded. Algernon Rutter was elected as the first president of the RFU and Edwin Ash was elected as treasurer. Three lawyers who were Rugby School alumni (Rutter, Holmes and L.J. Maton) drew up the first laws of the game which were approved in June 1871.
Although similar unions were organised during the next few years in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, the RFU was the first and therefore had no need to distinguish itself from others by calling itself the English RFU.
Participation in the IRFB
Until 1885, the laws of rugby union were made by the RFU. However, following a disputed try in an international between Scotland and England, the home unions of Scotland, Ireland and Wales founded the International Rugby Football Board. England refused to take part, stating that they should have greater representation, as they have more clubs.
In 1890, England joined the IRFB.
The secession of the northern clubs – Rugby Football League
On 29 August 1895, 22 rugby clubs from across the north of England held a meeting in the George Hotel in Huddersfield, next to the railway station. They voted to secede from the Rugby Football Union and set up the Northern Rugby Football Union (later to be renamed the "Rugby Football League"). The RFU took strong action against the clubs involved in the formation of the NRFU, all of whom were deemed to have forfeited their amateur status and therefore to have left the RFU. A similar interpretation was applied to all players who played either for or against such clubs, whether or not they themselves received any compensation. Such players were effectively barred sine die from any involvement in organised rugby union. These comprehensive and enduring sanctions, combined with the very localised nature of most rugby competition, meant that most northern clubs had little practical option but to affiliate with the NRFU in the first few years of its existence. Discrimination against rugby league players could verge on the petty – even as late as the 1970s an English rugby union club was instructed to dismiss a cleaner who was married to a professional rugby league player.
The modern era
The RFU long resisted competitions and leagues fearing that they would encourage foul play and professionalism. The first club competition, then known as the R.F.U Club Competition first took place in 1972. Following a sponsorship agreement it became known as the John Player Cup in 1976
The RFU agreed to the formation of a league pyramid in 1987.
In 2003, the RFU began talks about a merger with the governing body for women's rugby union the RFUW. After five years of discussion it was announced that the two bodies will "integrate" (rather than merge) from September 2010, with the RFUW remaining in existence as a "Constituent Body" within the RFU.
Since 1890 the RFU has recognised the International Rugby Board as the world governing and law-making body for the game of Rugby Union. Other countries' governing bodies are often called by a similar name for example, Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). See the IRB article for a full list of National Rugby Unions.
Director of Elite Rugby
In response to the faltering results of the England National Team on August 18, 2006 Rob Andrew was appointed by the RFU to undertake the post of Director of Elite Rugby to oversee all aspects of representative rugby in England, from the regional academies to the full senior side, including senior team selection powers and the power to hire and fire coaches at all levels of English rugby. Rob also has the task of building bridges with the premiership clubs and the RFU in terms of players withdrawal from their club duties for international duties.
Streamlining of RFU Structure
On 6 January 2011, Rob Andrew's role as director of elite rugby at the Rugby Football Union was scrapped in an overhaul of the organisation's structure.
Chief executive John Steele opted to create a single rugby department divided into the areas of performance, operations and development with the emphasis on "delivering rugby at all levels", with each area having its own director.
- Anglo-Welsh Cup
- Army Rugby Union
- British and Irish Cup
- Calcutta Cup
- County Championship
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- English Rugby Union teams
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- Powergen National Trophy
- Rugby union in England
- Official Site of FIRA
- "Beaumont appointed RFU Chairman". RFU.com. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- "Careers and Vacancies at the RFU". Rugby Football Union.
- "International Rugby Board - England". International Rugby Board.
- Steve Lewis, One Among Equals, page 9, 2008, (Vertical Editions:London)
- Rob Andrew's role at RFU scrapped in overhaul
- Collins, Tony (2009); A Social History of English Rugby Union, Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-47660-7.
- Official website
- Official RFU Clubs Website
- Official Photo Store
- Official Travel Company
- Army Rugby Union