|Rugby union in Latvia|
|Governing body||Latvia Rugby Federation|
|First played||Mid 20th century|
Rugby union in Latvia is a minor but growing sport. During the pre-independence period, Latvia was not a centre for the game but nonetheless
The Latvian Rugby Federation (Latvian: "Latvijas Regbija Federacija") was founded in 1963, and joined the IRB in 1991, after Latvian independence.Although the union was formed in the sixties, it was not considered a proper national union until after the breakup of the USSR.
Rugby union was played in the Russian Empire as early as in 1908. In 1934 the Moscow Championship was started, and in 1936 the first Soviet Championship took place.
Rugby union arrived in Latvia itself during the post-War Soviet period. Latvia was never a stronghold of rugby in the USSR - the game was mainly played in Russia and Georgia - but has experienced some growth in the post-independence period.
After 1949, rugby's funding was withdrawn in the USSR for the sport being non-olympic". The competitions were resumed in 1957, and the Soviet Championship in 1966. In 1975 the Soviet national team played their first match.
Latvia had its own rugby team in the USSR, but it was not treated as a proper national side.
Like many other minor rugby nations, the game is centred on the capital, Riga.
Latvian rugby received a surprise boost when they qualified for the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens. At the time, there were only two pitches in the country, both of which spent much of their time under snow.However, they lost heavily to Fiji, Wales, South Africa and Romania.
There is some rivalry with neighbours Lithuania, who they beat in the qualifiers for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, although they did not succeed in getting into the main competition.
The Baltic is not a major rugby playing area at the time of writing, but several neighbouring countries such as Poland, Russia and Sweden can boast thousands of players. The game is also growing fairly fast in Ukraine .Entry into the European Union will also make it easier for western European sides to tour the country.
Snow rugby is also played in Latvia during the winter when conditions make standard play impossible.
Rugby union in Russia is a moderately popular sport. Russia is ranked 18th worldwide by the World Rugby, having over three hundred clubs and close to 22,000 players nationally. Russia has a professional domestic competition.
Rugby union in Georgia is a popular team sport. Rugby union is considered the most popular sport in Georgia.
Rugby union in Brazil is a minor but growing sport, with rugby union increasing in popularity at universities across Brazil.
Rugby union is a moderately popular team sport played in Romania with a tradition of more than 100 years. The Romanian men's national team was 14th in the IRB World Rankings in February 2016.
Sport in Europe tends to be highly organized with many sports having professional leagues. The origins of many of the world's most popular sports today lie in the codification of many traditional games, especially in Great Britain. However, a paradoxical feature of European sport is the remarkable extent to which local, regional and national variations continue to exist, and even in some instances to predominate.
Rugby union in Armenia is a growing sport. The national team is currently unranked in the world rankings, which records only the top ninety-six countries. The governing body for Armenia is the Rugby Federation of Armenia.
The USSR national rugby union team was a sporting side that represented the Soviet Union in rugby union until the early 1990s.
Rugby union in Azerbaijan is a growing sport. They are currently unranked in the International Rugby Board's world rankings, which ranks only the top ninety-five countries. The governing body for Azerbaijan is Azerbaycan Reqbi Federasiyasl.
Rugby union in Moldova is a popular sport. The governing body in Moldova is the Moldovan Rugby Federation.
Rugby union in Croatia is a minor sport. As of August 2011, they are ranked fiftieth in the International Rugby Board's world rankings,.
Rugby union in Hungary is a minor but growing sport.
Rugby union in Lithuania is a minor but growing sport.
Rugby union in Ukraine is a minor but growing sport, with a history dating back over six decades.
Rugby union in Sweden is a minor but growing sport. The Swedish Rugby Union was founded in 1932, and joined the IRB in 1988.
Rugby union in Kazakhstan is a fairly popular sport. As of May 2018, they are ranked 61st by World Rugby, and as of June 2009, they had 2335 registered players and twenty clubs.
Rugby union in Kyrgyzstan is a minor but growing sport.
Rugby union in Uzbekistan is a minor but growing sport.
Rugby union in Estonia is a minor but growing sport.
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.
Rugby union in Belarus is a minor sport. They are currently affiliated to FIRA-AER.