1945(as Australian R.F.U.)|
General Sir Peter Cosgrove,|
Governor-General of Australia
|Men's coach||Michael Cheika|
|Women's coach||Dwayne Nestor|
Tim Walsh (Men's)|
Rugby Australia, known as the Australian Rugby Union until 2017, is the governing body of rugby union in Australia. It was officially constituted in 1949 and is a member of World Rugby (WR), the sport's international governing body. Rugby Australia has eight member unions, representing each state and territory. It also manages Australia's national rugby union teams, including the Wallabies.
The original administrative body for rugby in Australia was the Southern Rugby Union, established in Sydney in 1874. Following the first inter-colonial rugby match in 1882 between the New South Wales and Queensland teams, a Northern Rugby Union was formed in Brisbane in 1883. Interest in rugby developed rapidly over the next decade as matches between New South Wales and Queensland became annual events and inter-colonial fixtures with New Zealand were also arranged.
The first British Isles team toured in 1888 and played 16 rugby matches in Australia (as well as 18 matches of Victorian rules, later to become Australian football). Rugby at that time was the most prominent football code in New South Wales and Queensland, whereas Victorian rules was the main game in the other Australian colonies. The Southern and Northern Rugby Unions became the New South Wales Rugby Football Union and the Queensland Rugby Football Union, respectively, in 1892 and 1893.
Australia's first international rugby match was against the touring British Isles team of 1899, a year and a half before federation established the Commonwealth of Australia. The match was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground and won 13–3 by Australia, but the tourists won the remaining three tests. The Australian team for the first match consisted of six players from Queensland and nine from New South Wales.
New South Wales, as the senior union, was responsible for administration of the Australian team, including all tours, until the end of the 1940s. However, the various state unions agreed that the future of rugby union in Australia would be better served by having a national administrative body and so the Australian Rugby Football Union was formed at a conference in Sydney in 1945, acting initially in an advisory capacity only. Additional impetus came in 1948 when the International Rugby Football Board invited Australia specifically (rather than a New South Wales representative), to take a seat on the Board.
The constitution of the Australian Rugby Football Union was ratified on 25 November 1949 at the inaugural council meeting of eleven delegates from the state unions of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. The ACT Rugby Union gained membership in 1972. The Northern Territory Rugby Union joined in 1978, initially as an associate union before later being granted membership and voting rights.
In 1985 the Australian Rugby Football Union was incorporated as a company and, in 1997, it became simply The Australian Rugby Union Ltd, known as the ARU.
The ACT Rugby Union became the ACT and Southern NSW Rugby Union in 2004, after two regions in southern New South Wales switched their rugby affiliation to the Australian Capital Territory.
Rugby Australia's members (shareholders) include the unions representing each Australian state and territory, together with the Super Rugby bodies within the country and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA). Members exercise their voting rights at the annual general meeting. Under the new constitution adopted in 2012, the eight existing member unions and RUPA each provide a delegate who has one allocated vote. Additionally, each of the Super Rugby teams also provide a delegate who has one allocated vote. At this stage, only the Rebels and Waratahs are independently administered so the votes for the other three teams are effectively controlled by the respective member unions that own each team. Finally, any delegate from a member union with more than 50,000 registered players in their region is granted a second vote. Only the New South Wales and Queensland unions exceed that mark at present, so the total number of members' votes is currently sixteen. There are also a number of affiliated groups that do not have voting rights.
|ACT||ACT and Southern NSW Rugby Union||2|
|NSW||New South Wales Rugby Union||2||3|
|QLD||Queensland Rugby Union||3|
|WA||Rugby Western Australia||2|
|SA||Rugby Union South Australia||1|
|TAS||Tasmanian Rugby Union||1|
|NT||Northern Territory Rugby Union||1|
|Rugby Union Players' Association||1|
|Australian Barbarians Rugby Club|
|Australian Junior Rugby Union|
|Australian Schools Rugby Football Union|
|Australian Services Rugby Union|
|Australian Women's Rugby Union|
Prior to 2012, the voting franchise made no allowance for Super Rugby teams or the RUPA. The then ARU simply allocated fourteen votes split as follows:
- NSW Rugby Union: 5
- Queensland Rugby Union: 3
- Other state and territory member unions: 1 each
National sevens teams
- Men's 7s – the national rugby union seven-a-side team.
- Women's 7s - the national women's seven-a-side rugby union team.
- Junior Wallabies – the under-20 age graded side that competes for the World Rugby Junior Championship.
- Australian Schoolboys – a representative team of school players that has developed some of today's current Wallabies.
- Australia A – the former second-level national rugby union team behind the Wallabies.
- Under 21s – a former age graded side that has developed players who went on to become Wallabies.
- Under 19s – a former age graded side that has developed players who went on to become Wallabies.
Hall of Fame
Rugby Australia promotes and selects a Hall of Fame honouring notable former players. Each year two or three of Australia's greats from all eras of the international game are selected by an eight-man committee to be inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame. Inductees are drawn from all Test teams starting with the first side in 1899. Consideration is given to a player's on-field career but induction is not based on statistical achievement alone.
To be eligible for inclusion in the Wallaby Hall of Fame, a player must have:
- Played at least one Test for Australia
- Been retired from Rugby for at least 10 years
- Made a major contribution to the game of Rugby
- Demonstrated outstanding ability, sportsmanship, commitment, character and personal contribution to their team and the game in their era.
Hall of Fame members: 
- Trevor Allan
- Jock Blackwood 
- Wylie Breckenridge 
- David Brockhoff 
- Cyril Burke 
- David Campese
- Ken Catchpole
- Bill Cerutti
- Des Connor
- Greg Cornelsen 
- Greg Davis 
- Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop
- John Eales
- Charlie Eastes
- Mark Ella
- Nick Farr-Jones
- Jack Ford 
- John Hipwell
- Tim Horan 
- Peter Johnson 
- Tom Lawton, Snr
- Mark Loane
- Michael Lynagh
- Paul McLean
- Wally Meagher
- Tony Miller
- Herbert Moran
- Simon Poidevin 
- Tom Richards
- Alex Ross
- Geoff Shaw
- Tony Shaw
- Sir Nicholas Shehadie
- Andrew Slack
- John Solomon 
- John Thornett
- Johnnie Wallace
- Jon White
- Colin Windon
- Mulford 2005, p. 22.
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