Rugby union in the Isle of Man

Last updated
Rugby union in the Isle of Man
1888 British Lions.jpg
The 1888 British Isles side including Manx player A.P. Penketh
CountryIsle of Man
Governing bodyRugby Football Union
National team(s) Isle of Man
First playedlate 19th century

Rugby union in the Isle of Man is a popular sport. It has no national competitive side of its own, and is not affiliated to the IRB in its own right. For this reason, it has no IRB ranking.


Governing body

Rugby Union is played in the Isle of Man under the auspices of the Cheshire Rugby Football Union which is affiliated to the (English) Rugby Football Union. The sport is organised and operated by a Manx Executive Committee which is a sub-committee of Cheshire RFU.The Isle of Man is politically neither part of the UK nor of England, [1] but Manx rugby has a relationship with English rugby for practical reasons.


King William's College as seen across the runway of Ronaldsway Airport. Ronaldsway Airport AOA IOM - Isle of Man - kingsley - 30-APR-09.jpg
King William's College as seen across the runway of Ronaldsway Airport.

Due to its proximity to England, and the major rugby nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Manx rugby is amongst the oldest in the world, dating back to the mid 19th century. King William's College, the island's best known private school took the game up early and it is still one of the school's main sports, [2] and a number of other Manx schools also play, such as Castle Rushen High School, Ramsey Grammar School. The Manx Government also funds a full-time rugby development officer. [3]

An early club was Mona RFC, which is now defunct. [4]

There are a number of rugby union clubs within the island that contest the domestic competitions the Manx Shield and the Manx Cup. Reigning Shield Champions are Douglas Rugby Club with the Manx Cup yet to be decided. Other clubs include Castletown Rugby Club, Ramsey Rugby Club, Southern Nomads Rugby Club, Vagabonds Rugby Club and Western Vikings R.U.F.C

There is also a London Manx RFC side. [5]

Ramsey Rugby Club, Douglas Rugby Club and Vagabonds Rugby Club all had teams participating in the English Clubs Championship until 2020. At levels 8 & 9 of the structure there were insufficient teams to run a worthwhile league system. Ramsey & Vagabonds were therefore back in domestic competition only. Douglas and Vagabonds Ladies fell victims to the COVID-19 pandemic and are in a similar position. [6]

Like many small islands, the Isle of Man has a population problem. The main sport is association football, and the national population is under 80,000.

As yet, the Isle of Man has fielded a national team only on a sporadic basis.

Notable players connected with the Isle of Man

The following are notable Manx rugby union players, or people with a connection to the island.

Broadcast media

The Isle of Man has no television of its own, but does have its own radio station. However, British and Irish television can both be received on the island, and often include extensive rugby coverage - such as the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations Championship


Related Research Articles

The Isle of Man has an extensive communications infrastructure consisting of telephone cables, submarine cables, and an array of television and mobile phone transmitters and towers.

Douglas, Isle of Man Capital of the Isle of Man

Douglas is the capital and largest town of the Isle of Man, with a population of 27,938 (2011). It is located at the mouth of the River Douglas, and on a sweeping bay of two miles. The River Douglas forms part of the town's harbour and main commercial port.

Castletown, Isle of Man A town in the Isle of Man

Castletown is a town in the Isle of Man, geographically within the historical parish of Malew but administered separately. Lying at the south of the island, it was the Manx capital until 1869. The centre of town is dominated by Castle Rushen, a well-preserved medieval castle, originally built for a Viking king.

Peel, Isle of Man Human settlement in the United Kingdom

Peel is a seaside town and small fishing port in the Isle of Man, in the historic parish of German but administered separately. Peel is the third largest town in the island after Douglas and Ramsey but the fourth largest settlement, as Onchan has the second largest population but is classified as a village. Until 2016 Peel was also a House of Keys constituency, electing one Member of the House of Keys (MHK), who, from September 2015, was Ray Harmer. Peel has a ruined castle on St Patrick's Isle, and a cathedral, seat of the Diocese of Sodor and Man.

Ramsey, Isle of Man Human settlement in the United Kingdom

Ramsey is a coastal town in the north of the Isle of Man. It is the second largest town on the island after Douglas. Its population is 7,845 according to the 2016 census. It has one of the biggest harbours on the island, and has a prominent derelict pier, called the Queen's Pier. It was formerly one of the main points of communication with Scotland. Ramsey has also been a route for several invasions by the Vikings and Scots.

Isle of Man Railway

The Isle of Man Railway (IMR) is a narrow gauge steam-operated railway connecting Douglas with Castletown and Port Erin on the Isle of Man. The line is 3 ft narrow gauge and 15.3 miles (24.6 km) long. It is the remainder of what was a much larger network that also served the western town of Peel, the northern town of Ramsey and the small mining village of Foxdale. Now in government ownership, it uses original rolling stock and locomotives and there are few concessions to modernity.

St Johns, Isle of Man Human settlement in the United Kingdom

St John's is a small village in the sheading of Glenfaba in the Isle of Man, in the island's central valley. It is in the House of Keys constituency of Glenfaba & Peel, which elects two MHKs.

Local government in the Isle of Man

Local governmentin the Isle of Man was formerly based on six sheadings, which were divided into seventeen parishes. The island is today divided for local government purposes into town districts, village districts, parish districts, and "districts", as follows:

High Bailiff

The High Bailiff is a legal position held within the Isle of Man. The High Bailiff is the head stipendiary magistrate.

Vagabonds RUFC

Vagabonds RUFC also known as simply Vagabonds or by their nickname Vagas is a rugby union club located in Douglas, Isle of Man. They are affiliated with the English Rugby Football Union and currently play in the South Lancs/Cheshire 3 division following their relegation from South Lancs/Cheshire 2 at the end of the 2017–18 season.

Douglas R.U.F.C.

Douglas Rugby Club are a rugby union club based in Douglas on the Isle of Man. The club has two senior sides and age-range teams encompassing both mini and junior rugby. The men's 1st XV currently play in North 1 West, at the sixth tier of the English rugby union system, following their promotion from South Lancs/Cheshire 1 via the playoffs at the end of the 2016–17 season.

Castletown R.U.F.C. is a Rugby union football club in Castletown, Isle of Man.

Southern Nomads R.U.F.C. is a Rugby Football club in Port Erin, Isle of Man.

Sport in the Isle of Man

For a small country, sport in the Isle of Man plays an important part in making the island known to the wider world. The principal international sporting event held on the island is the annual Isle of Man TT motorcycling event. However, the Isle of Man is represented internationally in a number of other sports at the Commonwealth Games and the Island Games.

The Manx Electricity Authority was a Statutory Board of the Isle of Man Government which generated and supplied electricity for the Isle of Man. In 2014 it became part of the Manx Utilities Authority when it was merged with the Isle of Man Water and Sewerage Authority.

Ramsey R.U.F.C.

Ramsey Rugby Club is a rugby union team based in Ramsey, Isle of Man. Until the end of the 2019/20 season, the Club's First XV played in the English Clubs Championship. The League Structure at levels 8 and 9 disintegrated in March 2020 leaving Ramsey confined to Isle of Man domestic rugby only.

Raad ny Foillan

Raad ny Foillan is a coastal long distance footpath in the Isle of Man. Because it is a closed loop around the coast, it can be walked in either a clockwise or an anti-clockwise direction.

Western Vikings R.U.F.C.

Western Vikings Rugby Club is a rugby union team based in Peel, Isle of Man. They are affiliated to the Cheshire Rugby Football Union and in turn the English Rugby Football Union.

The Cheshire Rugby Football Union (CRFU) is the governing body for the sport of rugby union in the county of Cheshire in England, which also includes parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester as well as the Isle of Man and even Wales. The union is the constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for Cheshire. The CRFU administers and organises rugby union clubs and competitions in the county and administers the Cheshire county rugby representative teams.

Sir James Gell

Sir James Gell, CVO, QC was a Manx lawyer, who was the First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls in the Isle of Man. He was also the first Manxman to become Attorney General of the Isle of Man.


  1. Isle of Man Government website Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. [ bare URL ]
  3. [ bare URL ]
  4.;read=500947 [ bare URL ]
  5. [ bare URL ]
  6.,leagues%20disintegrated%20in%20early%20March.&text=With%20the%20Ladies%20being%20stuck,to%20join%20the%20Bowl%20competition. [ bare URL ]
  7. Sporting Honours : Old Alleynians from the 1910 yearbook Page 245/395 Archived 2011-05-19 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Griffiths, John (1990). British Lions. Swindon: Crowood Press. ISBN   1852235411
  9. [ bare URL ]