The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871, and was the sport's international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby (WR) in 1886. It promotes and runs the sport, organises international matches for the England national team, and educates and trains players and officials.
The RFU is an industrial and provident society owned by over 2,000 member clubs, representing over 2.5 million registered players, and forms the largest rugby union society in the world, and one of the largest sports organisations in England. It is based at Twickenham Stadium, London.
In September 2010 the equivalent women's rugby body, the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW), was able to nominate a member to the RFU Council to represent women and girls rugby. The RFUW was integrated into the RFU in July 2012.
|Rugby Football Union|
|World Rugby affiliation||1890|
|Rugby Europe affiliation||1999|
|Men's coach||Eddie Jones|
|Women's coach||Simon Middleton|
|Sevens coach||Simon Amor|
On 4 December 1870, Edwin Ash of Richmond and Benjamin Burns of Blackheath published a letter in The Times suggesting that "those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play." On 26 January 1871 a meeting attended by representatives from 21 clubs was held in London at the Pall Mall Restaurant on Regent Street.
The 21 clubs present at the meeting were: Blackheath (represented by Burns and Frederick Stokes, the latter becoming the first captain of England), Richmond, Ravenscourt Park, West Kent, Marlborough Nomads, Wimbledon Hornets, Gipsies, Civil Service, The Law Club, Wellington College, Guy's Hospital, Flamingoes, Clapham Rovers, Harlequin F.C., King's College Hospital, St Paul's, Queen's House, Lausanne, Addison, Mohicans, and Belsize Park. The one notable omission was the Wasps. According to one version, a Wasps' representative was sent to attend the meeting, but owing to a misunderstanding was sent to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day; another version is that he went to a venue of the same name where, after consuming a number of drinks, he realised his mistake but was too drunk to make his way to the correct venue. Ealing Rugby Club (now Ealing Trailfinders) also received an invitation, but their representative stopped in a public house and also missed the meeting.
As a result of this meeting the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was founded. Algernon Rutter was elected as the first president of the RFU, and Edwin Ash was elected as treasurer. Three lawyers who were Rugby School alumni (Rutter, Holmes and L.J. Maton) drew up the first laws of the game, which were approved in June 1871.
Although similar unions were organised during the next few years in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, the RFU was the first and therefore had no need to distinguish itself from others by calling itself the English RFU.
Twenty-two rugby clubs from across the north of England met on 29 August 1895 in the George Hotel in Huddersfield, where they voted to secede from the Rugby Football Union and set up the Northern Rugby Football Union (later renamed the Rugby Football League). The RFU took strong action against the clubs involved in the formation of the NRFU, all of whom were deemed to have forfeited their amateur status and therefore to have left the RFU. A similar interpretation was applied to all players who played either for or against such clubs, whether or not they received any compensation. These players were barred indefinitely from any involvement in organised rugby union. These comprehensive and enduring sanctions, combined with the very localised nature of most rugby competition, meant that most northern clubs had little practical option but to affiliate with the NRFU in the first few years of its existence.
The RFU long resisted competitions and leagues fearing that they would encourage foul play and professionalism. The first club competition, then known as the R.F.U. Club Competition, took place in 1972. Following a sponsorship agreement it became known as the John Player Cup in 1976.
The RFU agreed to the formation of a league pyramid in 1987.
In 2005 the RFU began talks about a merger with the governing body for women's rugby union the RFUW. In September 2010 the RFUW was able to nominate a member to the RFU Council to represent women and girls rugby. The RFUW was integrated into the RFU in July 2012.
In response to the faltering results of the England national team, Rob Andrew was appointed on 18 August 2006 by the RFU to the post of Director of Elite Rugby, to oversee all aspects of representative rugby in England from the regional academies to the full senior side, including senior team selection powers and the power to hire and fire coaches at all levels of English rugby. Andrew also had the task of building bridges with the premiership clubs and the RFU in terms of players withdrawal from their club duties for international duties. On 6 January 2011 his role of Director of Elite Rugby was scrapped in an overhaul of the organisation's structure.
Chief executive John Steele opted to create a single rugby department divided into the areas of performance, operations and development with the emphasis on "delivering rugby at all levels", with each area having its own director.
The England national rugby union team competes in the annual Six Nations Championship with France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales. They have won this championship outright on a total of 28 occasions (with the addition of 10 shared victories), 13 times winning the Grand Slam and 25 times winning the Triple Crown, making them the most successful team in the tournament's history. England are to date the only team from the northern hemisphere to win the Rugby World Cup, when they won the tournament back in 2003. They were also runners-up in 1991 and 2007. They are currently ranked fourth in the world by the International Rugby Board as of 19 November 2018.
The England women's national rugby union team first played in 1982. England have taken part in every Women's Rugby World Cup competition. They won the competition in 1994 by defeating the United States 38–23 in the final, and again in 2014 by beating Canada 21–9 in the final. They finished as runner-up on four other occasions. Their coach is Simon Middleton after their coach Gary Street, who had been head coach since 2006, retired in 2015.
The England national rugby sevens team competes in the World Rugby Sevens Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Commonwealth Games. England's best finish in the Sevens Series is second place, which they have achieved four times, most recently in the 2016-17 season. The England Sevens team has generated several notable sevens players. Ben Gollings holds the record for points scored on the Sevens Series with 2,652 points. Dan Norton holds the record for tries scored on the Sevens Series with 261 tries as of June 2017. England's Simon Amor (2004) and Ollie Phillips (2009) have each won a World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award.
Premiership Rugby is an English professional rugby union competition. The Premiership consists of twelve clubs, and is the top division of the English rugby union system. Premiership clubs qualify for Europe's two main club competitions, the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The team finishing at the bottom of the Premiership each season is relegated to the second-division RFU Championship, and the winner of the Championship is promoted to the Premiership. The competition has been played since 1987, and has evolved into the current Premiership system. The current champions are Saracens. The most recently promoted side are the newly named Bristol Bears.
The RFU Championship is the second tier of the English rugby union league system and was founded in September 1987. The league was previously known as National Division One and in 2009 changed from a league consisting of semi-professional clubs to one that is now fully professional. The current champions are Bristol Bears who won promotion to the English Premiership after beating the Yorkshire Carnegie in a two-legged play-off, having finished first in the league during the regular season.
The Premier 15s is the top tier of the women's English rugby union domestic league system run by the Rugby Football Union. The league was created mainly from teams in the Women's Premiership. Its first season began on 16 September 2017. The current champions are Saracens, with the runners up being Harlequins.
The Cheshire Rugby Football Union (CRFU) is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Cheshire in England, which also includes parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester as well as the Isle of Man and even Wales. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Cheshire. The CRFU administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county and administers the Cheshire county rugby representative teams.Devon Rugby Football Union
The Devon Rugby Football Union is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Devon in England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Devon, and administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county. It also administers the Devon county rugby representative teams.Durham County Rugby Football Union
The Durham County Rugby Football Union is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Durham in England, as well as parts of Tyne and Wear. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Durham County, and administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county. It also administers the Durham county rugby representative teams.Hampshire Rugby Football Union
Hampshire Rugby Football Union is the governing body for rugby union in the county of Hampshire, England. It represent clubs sides not just from Hampshire but also from the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands, who take part in many of the competitions organized by the Hampshire RFU.Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union
The Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Hertfordshire in England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Hertfordshire, and administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county. It also administers the Hertfordshire county rugby representative teams.Irish Rugby Football Union
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) (Irish: Cumann Rugbaí na hÉireann) is the body managing rugby union in the island of Ireland (both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). The IRFU has its head office at 10/12 Lansdowne Road and home ground at Aviva Stadium, where adult men's Irish rugby union international matches are played. In addition, the Union also owns the Ravenhill Stadium in Belfast, Thomond Park in Limerick and a number of grounds in provincial areas that have been rented to clubs.Kent Rugby Football Union
The Kent Rugby Football Union is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Kent in England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Kent, and administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county. It also administers the Kent county rugby representative teams.Lancashire County Rugby Football Union
The Lancashire County Rugby Football Union is the society responsible for rugby union in the county of Lancashire, England and is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union having been formed in 1881. In addition it is the county that has won the county championship on most occasions.London and South East Division Rugby Football Union
The London and South East Division Rugby Football Union is a rugby union governing body for London and South East England and is part of the Rugby Football Union.North Midlands Rugby Football Union
The North Midlands Rugby Football Union is a governing body for rugby union in part of The Midlands, England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union for the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and the Greater Birmingham area.Northumberland Rugby Football Union
The Northumberland Rugby Union is the governing body for rugby union in the county of Northumberland, England and is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union having been formed in 1880. In addition, the county has won the county championship on two occasions, and finished runners-up on a further five occasions.Oxfordshire Rugby Football Union
The Oxfordshire Rugby Football Union is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Oxfordshire in England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Oxfordshire, and administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county. It also administers the Oxfordshire county rugby representative teams.Rugby Football Union Midland Division
The Rugby Football Union Midland Division is a rugby union governing body for the English Midlands and is part of the Rugby Football Union.Rugby Football Union Northern Division
The Rugby Football Union Northern Division is the rugby union governing body for the North of England and is part of the Rugby Football Union.Rugby Football Union South West Division
The Rugby Football Union South West Division is a rugby union governing body for South West England and is part of the Rugby Football Union.Somerset Rugby Football Union
The Somerset County Rugby Football Union (SCRFU) is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Somerset in England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Somerset. The SCRFU administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the Somerset including the county rugby representative teams.Surrey Rugby Football Union
The Surrey County Rugby Football Union is the union responsible for rugby union in the county of Surrey, England, and is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union having been formed in 1879.Sussex Rugby Football Union
The Sussex Rugby Football Union is the society responsible for rugby union in the county of Sussex, England and is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union.Warwickshire Rugby Football Union
The Warwickshire Rugby Football Union is a governing body for rugby union in part of The Midlands, England. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union for the city of Coventry and the county of Warwickshire. The current president is Matt Smith of the Old Leamingtonians club.
|London and South East |
|South West competitions|
|Competitions and trophies|
|Without World Cup experience|
Some sports are run jointly with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; see Category:Sports governing bodies in the United Kingdom
Founding Clubs of the RFU