|World Rugby affiliation||1890|
|Rugby Europe affiliation||1999|
|Patron||Catherine, Princess of Wales|
|Men's coach||Steve Borthwick|
|Women's coach||John Mitchell|
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the national 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.
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. The main reason for the split was the wish of players to be compensated for lost wages when playing Rugby. Many working class players in the North lost wages to play. The R.F.U. opposed players being paid. They 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.[ citation needed ]
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.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex served as patron until February 2021.
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 July 2022, a vote of the RFU Council approved by a narrow margin to prohibit transgender women from playing in the female category, and to require a risk assessment for transgender men.The Liverpool Tritons, in coordination with International Gay Rugby, have condemned the decision and protested at Pride in Liverpool.
In September 2022, transgender player Julie Curtiss began a legal challenge to the ban on transgender women in female rugby by sending the RFU a pre-action protocol letter.
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, 2007 and 2019. They are currently ranked third in the world by World Rugby as of 8 March 2020.
The England women's national rugby union team first played in 1982.[ citation needed ] 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 338 tries as of October 2019. England's Simon Amor (2004) and Ollie Phillips (2009) have each won a World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award.
England men's senior team
England women's senior team
England men's under-20
England men's sevens
Premiership Rugby is an English professional rugby union competition. The Premiership consists of ten 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 was relegated to the second-division RFU Championship until 2020, and the winner of the Championship is promoted to the Premiership until 2022. 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 Saracens.
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 was fully professional. However since 2020 several clubs have since returned to a semi-professional model. The current champions are Jersey Reds after beating the Ealing Trailfinders.
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 Gloucester-Hartpury, with the runners up being Exeter Chiefs. Many of the teams have connections with premiership clubs.
Royal Patrons of the Rugby Football Union:
Rugby union in England is one of the leading professional and recreational team sports. In 1871 the Rugby Football Union, the governing body for rugby union in England, was formed by 21 rugby clubs, and the first international match, which involved England, was played in Scotland. The England national team compete annually in the Six Nations Championship, and are former world champions after winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The top domestic men's club competition is Premiership Rugby, and English clubs also compete in international competitions such as the European Rugby Champions Cup. The top domestic women's competition is the Premier 15s.
Old Albanian Rugby Football Club (OAs) is a rugby union club based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. The club currently play in National League 2 East.
Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club is an English professional rugby union club based in West London. The club's first team were the champions of the RFU Championship in 2021/22 but were considered ineligible for promotion to Premiership Rugby as their home ground's capacity is too small. They were promoted to the league after they won National League 1 in 2014–15.
The Women's Premiership, also called the RFUW Premiership was the top level of women's rugby union in England until 2017. It was formed in 1990 and was run by the Rugby Football Union for Women. It was superseded in the 2017/18 season by Premier 15s.
The RFU Championship is an English rugby union competition comprising eleven clubs. It is the second level of men's English rugby and is played by both professional and semi-professional players. The competition has existed since 1987, when English clubs were first organised into leagues.
The Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was the governing body for women's rugby union in England. In 2014 the RFUW and Rugby Football Union (RFU) combined to be one national governing body. The headquarters are at Twickenham Stadium, London.
Rugby union is one of the most popular sports, in terms of both participants and spectators in London. London has several of England's leading rugby union clubs, and the city is home to 13 teams playing in national leagues, and many regional amateur leagues regulated by the London and South East Division Rugby Football Union. However, several of these teams, due to necessity, have found homes at stadia outside the boundaries of the capital. The sport is well established, especially in the middle-class suburbs to the north and west of the city. Four of the twelve clubs currently in the Gallagher Premiership have London origins.
Andrew Durutalo is a Fijian-raised American-born professional rugby player who plays for the Seattle Seawolves of Major League Rugby (MLR). He has been capped by the U.S. national sevens team and the United States national rugby union team.
Lichfield Ladies Rugby Union Football Club is a women's rugby union club based in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. They play their home matches at Cooke Fields and play in the Women's Premiership. They are also the women's team of Lichfield Rugby Union Football Club.
The 2015–16 RFU Championship, known for sponsorship reasons as the Greene King IPA Championship, is the seventh season of the professionalised format of the RFU Championship, the second tier of the English rugby union league system run by the Rugby Football Union. It is contested by eleven English clubs and one from Jersey in the Channel Islands. This is the third year of the competition's sponsorship with Greene King Brewery, which runs until 2017. The twelve teams in the RFU Championship also compete in the British and Irish Cup, along with clubs from Ireland and Wales. Some matches in the RFU Championship are broadcast on Sky Sports.
Phil Chesters is an English rugby union player who is currently playing for Chinnor in National League 1 having signed for the club for the 2017-18 season. Prior to that he had made his name at Ealing Trailfinders where he had also been part of the medical staff. His best position is winger and over his career he has proved to be a tremendous try scorer who has set multiple records in lower division English rugby with Ealing, notably all-time records of 42 tries in a season in tier 3 and an amazing 70 tries in a season in tier 4 – a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten. As of the end of the 2017-18 he has also become the National League 2 South all-time try scorer with 117 tries.
Premiership Women's Rugby, officially known as Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby, is an annual pro–am women's rugby union club competition at the highest level of the English rugby union system, and is run by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). It is contested by nine clubs who play two series of round-robin matches to determine the four participants of a climatic single-elimination tournament. It began play in the 2017–18 season, superseding the former Rugby Football Union for Women's Premiership, and introducing elements of professionalism in the sport's highest level. In its first six seasons, the competition was known as the Premier 15s. Gloucester-Hartpury are the current champions, while Saracens have won the most championships (3).
The RFU Championship Cup is an annual rugby union competition introduced by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 2018 to provide a cup competition for English second tier clubs playing in the RFU Championship, following the disbanding of the British and Irish Cup at the end of the 2017–18 season. The Championship Cup was initially scheduled to take place for at least two seasons.
The 2018–19 RFU Championship Cup was the inaugural season of the annual rugby union Championship Cup competition for second tier, professional English clubs playing in the RFU Championship. It was formed following the discontinuation of the British and Irish Cup at the end of the 2017–18 season.
The 2020–21 RFU Championship, also known as the 2020–21 Greene King IPA Championship for sponsorship reasons, was the twelfth season of the RFU Championship, the professional second tier of rugby union in England. It featured ten English teams and one from Jersey. The competition was sponsored by Greene King for the eighth successive season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, this season featured a truncated timeframe of just 16 weeks with a later start and fewer rounds.
Simon Linsell is an English rugby union player who plays for Ealing Trailfinders in the RFU Championship.
Sean Reffell is an English rugby union player who plays as a flanker for United Rugby Championship side Ulster.
Abigail Dow is an English rugby player. She is a member of the England women's national rugby team and a winger for Ealing Trailfinders Women at club level. In November 2023 she was nominated for the World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year.
The 2021–22 RFU Championship was the thirteenth season of the RFU Championship, the professional second tier of rugby union in England. It featured ten English teams and one from Jersey. Saracens are the reigning champions and were promoted to the Premiership.
Dan Lancaster is an English professional rugby union player for Ealing Trailfinders in the RFU Championship. He previously played for Leicester Tigers in Premiership Rugby, the top division of rugby union in England, as well as Leeds Tykes and Nottingham in the RFU Championship. His primary position is fly half, he also plays centre.