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Introduction

South African Victor Matfield takes a line-out against New Zealand in 2006.

Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

Rugby union is a popular sport around the world, played by male and female players of all ages. In 2014, there were more than 6 million people playing worldwide, of whom 2.36 million were registered players. World Rugby, previously called the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) and the International Rugby Board (IRB), has been the governing body for rugby union since 1886, and currently has 101 countries as full members and 18 associate members.

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Argentina (blue) playing England (white) at Twickenham.
Rugby union is a popular team sport played in Argentina. The first rugby match played in the country dates back to 1873, as the game was introduced by the British. The Argentina national team, sometimes referred to as the Pumas, have competed at the Rugby World Cup, and are considered a tier one nation by the IRB. In more recent times, the governing body in Argentina has been the subject of controversy, leading to a strike in 2006 which threatened scheduled tests against Wales and the All Blacks. The national team has competed at the Rugby World Cup and made it as far as the quarter finals. (More...)

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Coupe du monde rugby - tour Eiffel.JPG

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, with a giant inflatable rugby ball suspended from it as a promotion for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: PRA

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After an All Blacks surprise loss to the French in the 1999 Rugby World Cup: "The French are predictably unpredictable."

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Thomas Ellison

Thomas Ellison (c. 1867 – 1904) was a New Zealand rugby union player. After being educated at Te Aute College, where he was introduced to rugby, Ellison moved to Wellington, and played for the Poneke Football Club. He was subsequently selected to represent Wellington province, and was later recruited into Joe Warbrick's privately organised 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team. Ellison scored 113 points and 43 tries on their epic 107-match tour of the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand. On his return he continued with Poneke and Wellington, and from 1892 started to refine and popularise the wing-forward system of play, which was a vital element of New Zealand rugby's style until 1932. At the first New Zealand Rugby Football Union annual general meeting in 1893, he proposed that the playing colours of the New Zealand side should be predominantly black with a silver fern—a playing strip that inspired the team’s name of All Blacks. That year he captained the New Zealand side on their tour of Australia. He retired from playing afterwards, but continued as a coach and administrator. Ellison was the author of a coaching manual, The Art of Rugby Football, published in 1902.

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