|Rugby union in Estonia|
|Governing body||Estonian Rugby Federation|
|First played||Mid 20th Century|
Rugby union in Estonia is a minor but growing sport.
The national body is the Estonian Rugby Union (Eesti Ragbi Liit). The Estonian Rugby Federation was the original rugby body, but did not affiliate to the IRB, as it was a "federation" of one team, instead of the required three. It was in fact expelled from FIRA-AER for lack of rugby development.
Rugby in the Baltic region was mainly introduced during the interwar period, although the game was played in Imperial Russia, including Saint Petersburg pre-Russian revolution, and was introduced to Germany in the 19th century.
In 1949, rugby union was forbidden in the USSR during the "fight against the cosmopolitanism". The competitions were resumed in 1957, and the Soviet Championship in 1966. In 1975 the Soviet national team played their first match.
Estonia had its own rugby team in the USSR, but it was not treated as a proper national side.
The current stadium used by the national team is Viimsi Staadion on generous loan from NordWest Kinnisvara OÜ.
For a number of years, the Estonian Rugby Federation controlled the game in a federation of one, the "Tigers" based in Tallinn.
Rugby league in Estonia has attempted to make aggressive inroads since the mid-2000s, and took over the one team rugby federation. As a result, 70% of Tallinn's players left, and set up their own rugby union team, the Sharks.
Tallinn hosts to a fair number of touring sides.
Like other places in the region, the playing season is April to October, as pitches are frequently frozen in winter.
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Rugby union in Russia is a moderately popular sport. Russia is ranked 20th worldwide by the World Rugby, having over three hundred clubs and close to 22,000 players nationally. Russian Rugby Championship is the top-level professional competition held in Russia. Krasnoyarsk, in the middle of Siberia, is traditionally the heartland of Russian rugby.
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Estonia–Russia relations refers to bilateral foreign relations between Estonia and Russia. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian SFSR were established on 2 February 1920, when Bolshevist Russia recognized de jure the independence of the Republic of Estonia, and renounced in perpetuity all rights to the territory of Estonia, via the Treaty of Tartu (Russian–Estonian). At the time, the Bolsheviks had just gained control of the majority of Russian territory, and their government's legitimacy was being hotly contested by Western powers and the Russian White movement.
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Rugby union in the Soviet Union was a moderately popular sport. It was most popular in the Georgian SSR; parts of the Russian SFSR such as Moscow and certain regions in Siberia like Krasnoyarsk; and Alma-Ata, the capital of the Kazakh SSR. Rugby enjoyed a more limited popularity in the Ukrainian SSR, Minsk in the Byelorussian SSR and parts of the RSFSR such as Leningrad and areas in Southern Russia, including Krasnodar. Rugby gained a significant following due to the vast size of the Soviet Union, but was never a major sport; despite many attempts to develop the sport, which Soviet citizens came to nickname the "leather melon" due to the shape of the ball. Still, an early championship in 1960 gives an idea of the sheer scale of Soviet rugby: one hundred teams from over thirty cities took part.
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The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was a republic of the Soviet Union. The ESSR was initially established on the territory of the Republic of Estonia on 21 July 1940, following the occupation of Soviet troops on 17 June 1940 and the installation of a communist government backed by the Soviet Union, which declared Estonia a Soviet constituency. Estonia was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union as a Soviet Republic on 6 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland until it was liberated by the Soviet Union in 1944 during World War II.
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