Rugby Europe 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 World Rugby (the world governing body of rugby union).
The predecessor to Rugby Europe was the Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) which was established in 1934 to administer rugby union in Europe outside the authority of the International Rugby Football Board (as World Rugby was then called), and quickly came to spread outside the continent. FIRA agreed to come under the auspices of World Rugby in the 1990s and appended 'Association Européenne de Rugby' to its name in a return to being a European body. In 2014 the organisation was renamed Rugby Europe as part of a re-branding strategy.
|Established||1934 (as FIRA) then|
FIRA–AER in 1999,
Europe in 2014
Rugby Europe has 47 member unions as of January 2019. Not all European member unions are members of World Rugby. Rugby Europe's members are listed below, with the year each union joined World Rugby shown in brackets.
There are forty World Rugby members
There are seven members of Rugby Europe that are not affiliated with World Rugby:
There are six European nations that are not currently affiliated with Rugby Europe or World Rugby:
In 1931, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) was suspended from playing against the other IRFB nations, because the sport's authorities had suspected for many years that the (FFR) was allowing the abuse of the rules on amateurism. 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, Holland and Germany. In 1941 the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco forcibly merged Catalonia's team into the Spanish rugby team. Nowadays the Catalan Federation is trying unsuccessfully to reverse this decision, claiming the historical rights as a founder member.
In 1965, FIRA inaugurated the FIRA Nation's Cup, and in 1974 the FIRA Championship, later renamed the European Nations Cup (ENC). The ENC provided international competition for European countries outside the Five Nations. The ENC was played in three divisions, iconcluding virtually every country in Continental Europe. The ENC later expanded its horizons, taking in Morocco, Tunisia and other non-European countries. The ENC first division competition was won most often by France, but Romania won it five times, Italy once, in its last edition in 1995–1997, and the Soviet Union won it once. France and Italy no longer play in the ENC, as both countries now play in the Six Nations Champsionship.
In 1990s the FIRA recognised the IRB as the governing body of rugby union worldwide and after negotiations with the IRB, it agreed to integrate itself within the organisation. 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 competitions now known as the World Rugby Under 20 Championship and World Rugby Under 20 Trophy in 2008.
The highest level of rugby competition played among European countries is the Six Nations Championship, contested every year in February and March by the tier-1 European nations: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy — all of them routinely ranked in the Top 15 in the world. The tournament began in 1883, and is the oldest international rugby tournament. The tournament has been known as the Six Nations Championship since 2000, when Italy joined; it had previously been known as the Five Nations. There is no promotion or relegation, and since 2000, no country has entered or left the Six Nations.
The next level of international rugby, played by tier-2 and tier-3 European countries, is the Rugby Europe International Championships. It is made up of five levels or divisions: Championship, Trophy, Conference 1, Conference 2 and Development. Each division consists of five or six teams, and is played on a round robin format for a one-year cycle, with promotion and relegation between levels and the end of the season. As of 2018, the top division Rugby Europe Championship is contested by six countries - Romania, Georgia, Russia, Spain, Germany and Belgium. Of these countries, all but Germany and Belgium have played in a Rugby World Cup and are routinely ranked in the Top 30 in the world. Other countries that have participated in past editions include Portugal, Ukraine, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
The following table shows the professional rugby union competitions in various European countries.
|Pro14|| Ireland (4), Wales (4),
Scotland (2), Italy (2), South Africa (2)
|Rugby Pro D2||France||2||2000||16||243||1,025,910||4,222|
The 2014 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens – Division A was the second level of international women's rugby sevens competitions organised by Rugby Europe for 2014. The competition featured just one tournament, played in Bergen. Scotland won the tournament, and along with runner-up Ukraine, were promoted to the 2015 Grand Prix series.2015 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens – Division A
The 2015 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens – Division A was the second level of international women's rugby sevens competitions organised by Rugby Europe for 2015. The competition featured just one tournament, played at the Darius and Girėnas Stadium. Belgium won the tournament, and along with runner-up Finland, were promoted to the 2016 Grand Prix series. Georgia and Lithuania were relegated to the 2016 Conferences.2016 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2016 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series competition was restructured from the previous year, now with four divisions: Sevens Grand Prix Series, the Trophy, Conference 1, and Conference 2.
In preparation for the 2016 Olympics, instead of England, Scotland, and Wales fielding their own teams, two unified teams, the Great Britain Royals and the Great Britain Lions, took part in the Grand Prix.2016 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2016 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series was the top level of international women's rugby sevens competitions organised by Rugby Europe during 2016. The series featured two tournaments, one hosted in Kazan and one hosted in Malemort. In preparation for 2016 Summer Olympics, England and Wales were replaced by two Great Britain representative teams, the Lions and the Royals. France won the Kazan tournament while Russia won the Malemort tournament. Russia won the overall championship. Finland and Ukraine were relegated to the 2017 Trophy series.2017 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2017 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix served as a European qualifier not only for the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier tournament, but for two bids among the teams not already qualified for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens.2017 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2017 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series was the top level of international women's rugby sevens competitions organised by Rugby Europe during 2017. The series featured two tournaments, one hosted in Malemort and one hosted in Kazan. Russia won both tournaments and finished as overall champions. Ireland finished third in both tournaments and finished as the series runners–up. The series also served as a 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier and Ireland qualified for the World Cup based on their performances in the series. Sweden and the Netherlands were relegated to the 2018 Trophy series.2018 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2018 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens qualifier. The three top placing 2018-2019 non-core World Series teams — Ireland, Germany, and Russia — advance to the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens qualification tournament. Ireland won the series, winning three out of the four tournaments.
The non-hosting team with the fewest points — Sweden — is relegated to the 2019 Trophy tournament.2018 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series
The 2018 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series was the 2018 edition of the annual rugby sevens competition for national women's teams in Rugby Europe. The top non-core teams will participate in a 2019 Hong Kong Women's Sevens for qualification into 2019-20 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, and the bottom two will be relegated to the 2019 Trophy.European Rugby Challenge Cup
The European Rugby Challenge Cup is an annual European rugby union competition organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR). It is the second-tier competition for European clubs behind the European Rugby Champions Cup. From its inception in 1996 to 2014, it was known as the European Challenge Cup and governed by European Rugby Cup (ERC). Following disagreements in the structure of the tournament's format and division of revenue, the English and French leagues withdrew to form the EPCR, which has organized the Challenge Cup and the Champions Cup since the 2014–15 season.The Challenge Cup is contested between 20 teams; 18 qualifying from the three main European domestic leagues (Premiership Rugby, Top 14, and Pro14), and two qualifying from the Continental Shield competition between teams from second-tier level Rugby Europe nations.
Cardiff Blues are the current Challenge Cup holders, having won the 2017-18 European Rugby Challenge Cup.European Rugby Continental Shield
The European Rugby Continental Shield (formerly the European Rugby Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition) is a rugby union competition, organised by European Professional Club Rugby, Rugby Europe and the Federazione Italiana Rugby, for entry into the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
The Qualifying Competition was first announced in April 2014, at the same time as the announcement of the creation of the European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions. The tournament features teams from tier 2 countries, such as Spain, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Georgia, Russia and Portugal, as well as select Italian Eccellenza clubs. In 2016-17, the qualification competition also became a European Rugby competition in its own right, the third tier European Rugby Continental Shield, with both successful play-off teams meeting in a final as a part of European Rugby Finals weekend.
Both editions of the Shield, 2016–17, and 2017–18, have been won by Russian club Yenisey-STM Krasnoyarsk.
The competition is the first third-tier European tournament since the suspension of the Parker Pen Shield in 2005Finland national rugby union team
The Finland national rugby union team has thus far not played in a Rugby World Cup, but has participated in qualifying tournaments. Finland also compete in the Rugby Europe Conference, playing in 2 North. They are currently ranked 99th in the World Rugby Rankings.France national rugby sevens team
The France national rugby sevens team competes in the World Rugby Sevens Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens, and other international tournaments.Georgia national rugby union team
The Georgia national rugby union team (Georgian: საქართველოს მორაგბეთა ეროვნული ნაკრები) nicknamed The Lelos is administered by the Georgian Rugby Union. The team takes part in the annual Rugby Europe Championship (previously named European Nations Cup) and participates in the Rugby World Cup, which takes place every four years.
Georgia is currently considered a second tier rugby union nation and is one of the world's fastest growing rugby nations. The Lelos participate in the Rugby Europe Championship, winning the tournament in 2001, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 seasons. The bulk of the national squad are based in France, in both the Top 14 and lower divisions. This is a practice that was popularized by former national team coach, Claude Saurel, a Frenchman.
Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Georgia. The national team qualified for the Rugby World Cup four times, first in 2003 – playing against rugby powers such as England and South Africa. The Lelos recorded their first ever World Cup win in 2007 Rugby World Cup, where they beat Namibia 30–0. As of 6 February 2017, Georgia are ranked 12th in the world by World Rugby. Since 2013, Georgia has hosted the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup.Ireland women's national rugby sevens team
The Ireland women's national rugby sevens team participates in international competitions such as the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, the Rugby Europe Women's Sevens and Rugby sevens at the Summer Olympics. Unlike the Ireland women's national rugby union team, the sevens team is a professional team with players contracted to the Irish Rugby Football Union.Rugby Europe International Championships
The Rugby Europe International Championships is the European Championship for tier 2 and tier 3 rugby union nations.
The tournament is split into 5 levels, each with 5 or 6 teams. Its highest level is now called the Rugby Europe Championship and, unofficially, referred to as the Six Nations B. All levels play on a one-year cycle, replacing the old format of a two-year cycle, with the teams playing each other both home and away. From September 2016, there will still be an annual champion, however a format change means each year sees teams promoted and relegated between the levels.Rugby Europe U20 Championship
The European Under-20 Rugby Union Championship is an annual rugby union championship for Under-20 national teams, held since 2007. The championship is organised by rugby's European governing body, the Rugby Europe.
The tournament serves as Europe's qualification to the next year´s World Rugby Under 20 Trophy organised by the World Rugby.
Georgia are the past champions of 2014, tournament which was held in Lisbon, Portugal.Rugby Europe Women's Sevens
The Rugby Europe Women's Sevens, previously the FIRA–AER Women's Sevens until 2013, is a series of regional championships for women's international rugby sevens in Europe. Prior to 2012, the annual tournament is held over two days, typically on a weekend in June, before the highest category tournament was reorganized as the Sevens Grand Prix Series, modeled after the format of the World Rugby Sevens Series. The tournaments are sanctioned and sponsored by Rugby Europe.Rugby Federation of Armenia
The Rugby Federation of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստան Ռեգբիի ֆեդերացիա, Hajastani Regbii Federatsia; Russian: Федерация регби Армении, Federatsiya Regbi Armenii) is the governing body for rugby union in Armenia.
It was founded in 2000 and joined FIRA-AER (now Rugby Europe) as an associate member in 2002. Rugby Europe suspended the Rugby Federation of Armenia in November 2014 due to inactivity.Sevens Grand Prix Series
The Rugby Europe Sevens, whose main division is the Sevens Grand Prix Series, are a series of rugby sevens tournaments held by Rugby Europe. It was formerly known as the FIRA-AER Sevens until 2013, with only one annual tournament prior to 2011, when it was reorganized as a series of tournaments, following the model of the World Rugby Sevens Series, and named the Sevens Grand Prix Series. Rugby Europe also sponsors continental sevens tournaments divided into multiple divisions, incorporating a promotion/relegation system.