Rugby union in Lithuania

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Rugby union in Lithuania
Israel - Lithuania 23-5-2009-4.JPG
Lithuania playing Israel
National team(s) Lithuania
First played1961
Registered players1,650 [1]
National competitions
Club competitions
Lithuanian Rugby Championship

Rugby union in Lithuania is a minor but growing sport.


Governing Body

The Lithuanian Rugby Federation was founded in 1961 and joined the IRB in 1993 after Lithuanian had regained its independence. [2] Although the union was formed in the 1960s, it was not considered a full-fledged national union until after the breakup of the USSR.


Soviet Era

Rugby union arrived in Lithuania in the 1960s. The first domestic game was played in 1961. Lithuania was never a stronghold of rugby in the USSR. The game was mainly played in Russia and Georgia. 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. [3]

Lithuania had its own national rugby team in the USSR, but it was not treated as an international side.


Rugby is spread across the country with Šiauliai as the sport's stronghold. There are rugby clubs in all major Lithuanian cities. Some smaller towns only have junior teams. The climate in the country hinders the development of the sport, because the ground is frozen for four months of the year. Snow rugby is played in winter.

The game has experienced some growth in the independence period particularly following the record-breaking performances by the Lithuania national rugby union team in the European Nations Cup. There is some rivalry with neighbours Latvia who were the better side in the 1990s. However, in recent years Lithuania has dominated the fixtures.

Rugby is amateur in Lithuania. The only professional player to have come out of Lithuania is Karolis Navickas who in 2012 signed for Union Bordeaux Bègles. [4]

Women's rugby

Currently there are women's rugby teams in Klaipėda, Marijampolė and Vilnius. Another two are forming. Rugby sevens is the dominant variant. Although Lithuania's women are yet to play test match rugby, they have been playing international sevens rugby since 2005. (Current playing record).


The main national competition is the Lithuanian Rugby Championship, currently disputed by 7 teams in the I Group. [5] They are:

See also

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Rugby union in Russia

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Rugby union in Armenia

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.

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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  Latvia managed to qualify for the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens - which may be seen as the highest point it has yet reached.

Rugby union in Ukraine

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Rugby union in the Soviet Union

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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Metuisela Talebula Rugby player

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-09-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN   1-86200-013-1) p71
  3. Rugby union in Russia and USSR (in Russian)
  4. "Union Bordeaux-Bègles: Saubusse et Brousse prolongent, un Lituanien arrive".
  5. "".