Rugby Europe

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.

Rugby Europe
Rugby Europe Logo and Brand
Established1934 (as FIRA) then
FIRA–AER in 1999,
renamed Rugby
Europe in 2014
TypeSports federation
HeadquartersParis, France
Coordinates48°52′46″N 2°19′41″E / 48.87944°N 2.32806°E
Membership
47 unions
President
Octavian Morariu
Websiterugbyeurope.eu

Member unions

Rugby Europe has 47 member unions as of January 2019.[1] Not all European member unions are members of World Rugby.[2] 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:

Notes:

  1. ^ Armenia was suspended from Rugby Europe in November 2014 due to inactivity.[4]
  2. ^ The Greek federation has been inactive since 2014 after losing official government recognition.[3]

History

FIRA (1934–1999)

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.[5] 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.

FIRA–AER (1999–2014)

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.

Rugby Europe (2014–present)

In June 2014, during the annual convention of FIRA-AER in Split, it was decided to rename the organisation to Rugby Europe to provide it with a shorter, more recognisable name.[6]

International competitions

Six Nations
Nation Rank
(Hi–Low)
England 1–8
France 2–9
Ireland 2–9
Wales 2–10
Scotland 5–12
Italy 8–15

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.

Other international competitions

Men

Women

Youth

Professional competitions

The following table shows the professional rugby union competitions in various European countries.

League Country Div. Began* Teams Games Total
attendance
Average
attendance
Ref.
Top 14 France France 1 1892 14 182 2,414,951 13,269 [7]
Premiership England England 1 1987 12 135 1,697,177 12,925 [8]
Pro14 Ireland Ireland (4), Wales Wales (4),
Scotland Scotland (2), Italy Italy (2), South Africa South Africa (2)
1 2001 14 135 1,052,795 7,856* [9]
Rugby Pro D2 France France 2 2000 16 243 1,025,910 4,222
Championship England England 2 1987 12 132 287,262 2,176 [10]

Notes:

  • Average attendances vary significantly by country within the Pro12—Ireland (12,347), Wales (8,136), Scotland (4,570), and Italy (2,744).
  • The English Premiership and French Top 14 both turned professional in 1996. Two Italian teams joined the Celtic League (since renamed Pro12) in 2010.
  • England's second-level Championship became fully professional in 2009 after having been semi-professional.

References

  1. ^ "Unions Members". Rugby Europe. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Handbook" (PDF). World Rugby. 2014. pp. 16–10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  3. ^ ""Λουκέτο" στο ράγκμπι". Sport24 (in Greek). Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  4. ^ "World Rugby gives Cyprus warm welcome but Armenia and Greece the cold shoulder". ASOIF. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  5. ^ "About us". Rugby Europe. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  6. ^ FIRA-AER Becomes RUGBY EUROPE Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine FIRA-AER website, published: 20 June 2014, accessed: 25 June 2014
  7. ^ "Statistiques générales, saison 2011–2012" (in French). Ligue nationale de rugby. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2012. Select "Affluences" (attendance) tab from the clickable banner. Attendance statistics are for the regular season only; they do not include the five playoff games.
  8. ^ "Aviva Premiership Rugby 11/12 / Attendance". Premiership Rugby Limited. 29 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Match Centre : RaboDirect PRO12 Fixtures & Results, 2011–2012". PRO12. Retrieved 2012-11-19. The attendance for one match, Ulster–Leinster on 20 April 2012, was not reported by the league. BBC Sport reported the attendance for this match at 10,500, which was used in the calculations here.
  10. ^ "Rugby Stats | Championship 09/10 |". Statbunker.com. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2011.

External links

2014 Rugby Europe Women's Sevens – Division A

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 2005

Finland 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.

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