Rugby union in Latvia
|Rugby union in Latvia|
|Governing body||Latvia Rugby Federation|
|First played||Mid 20th century|
Rugby union in Latvia is a minor but growing sport. During the pre-independence period, Latvia was not a centre for the game but nonetheless Latvia managed to qualify for the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens - which may be seen as the highest point it has yet reached.
The Latvian Rugby Federation (Latvian: "Latvijas Regbija Federacija") was founded in 1963, and joined the IRB in 1991, after Latvian independence. Although the union was formed in the sixties, it was not considered a proper national union until after the breakup of the USSR.
Rugby union arrived in Latvia itself during the post-War Soviet period. Latvia was never a stronghold of rugby in the USSR - the game was mainly played in Russia and Georgia - but has experienced some growth in the post-independence period.
In 1949, rugby union was forbidden in the USSR during the "fight against the cosmopolitanism". The competitions were resumed in 1957, and the Soviet Championship in 1966. In 1975 the Soviet national team played their first match.
Latvia had its own rugby team in the USSR, but it was not treated as a proper national side.
Latvian rugby received a surprise boost when they qualified for the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens. At the time, there were only two pitches in the country, both of which spent much of their time under snow.  However, they lost heavily to Fiji, Wales, South Africa and Romania.
The Baltic is not a major rugby playing area at the time of writing, but several neighbouring countries such as Poland, Russia and Sweden can boast thousands of players. The game is also growing fairly fast in the Ukraine . Entry into the European Union will also make it easier for western European sides to tour the country.
- Latvia national rugby union team
- Latvia national rugby union team (sevens)
- Soviet Union national rugby union team
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p70
- Rugby union in Russia and USSR (Russian)
- Bath p76
- Bell, Angus Batting on the Bosphorus: A Skoda-powered Cricket Tour Through Eastern Europe, Canongate, Edinburgh, 2008, ISBN 1-84767-290-6, p23