Rugby union in South Korea

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Rugby union in South Korea
Country South Korea
National team South Korea
Registered players 2,520 [1]
Clubs 65
National competitions
Club competitions

Rugby union in South Korea is a minor but growing sport. Of the two Korean nations, the game tends to be mostly played in South Korea; North Korea's mostly small rugby union presence is limited to Koreans in Japan.

Governing body[edit]

The Korean Union was set up in 1946, and affiliated to the IRFB in 1988.[2]


It is unknown when rugby was first played in Korea. During the mid-19th century, European sailors are recorded as playing some of the earliest games in north east Asia, in ports such as Shanghai and Yokohama in neighbouring China and Japan, but it is unclear whether this occurred in Korea itself.

However, it seems certain it had some presence by the mid-20th century. Korea was to become occupied by Japan, the main rugby playing nation of Asia, and it could well have been introduced then. South Korea still maintains a fierce rivalry with Japan to this day.[2]

After World War II, and later, during the period of the Korean War, the large influx of troops from Commonwealth countries cemented its presence.[2] One legacy of this is that South Korean rugby has traditionally been strongest in the army.[2]

However, South Korean rugby has a second string to its bow. The massive growth of the economy since the 1960s, meant that a number of Korean corporations were to set up company teams along the lines of those in Japan, and this has broken up the former dominance of the military.[2]

South Korea made a failed attempt to have rugby union at the Olympic Games readmitted, when they hosted the games in Seoul.[3] Roh Tae-woo, who was South Korean president at the time, had been a player.[4]

South Korea have emerged as an important rugby nation in Asia, since they won the Asian Championship in 1990.[2]

Notable players include-

Expatriate rugby[edit]

Expatriate rugby was first played in Korea in 1972. An expat team called the Seoul Wanderers were formed to give opposition to both the local university teams and stationed army teams. This team was made up of players from the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. The team was disbanded in 1976.

In early 1979 Franz Misch, Mike Seros and Brad Handley got together and formed a new club - the Seoul Survivors. The club is still around today.[5]

Today a range of expat teams exist in South Korea which sees teams play rugby 10's in KERA-Korean Expat Rugby League.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p70
  3. ^ Rugby at the 1924 Olympics, retrieved 19 August 2009
  4. ^ a b Famous Ruggers by Wes Clark and others, retrieved 19 August 2009
  5. ^[dead link]