|Nicknames||Rugby, Rugger, Union |
|First played||19th century|
|Registered players||2,360,000  [nb 1]|
|Team members||15 (with up to 8 substitutes)|
|Mixed gender||Separate competitions|
||Part of the Summer Olympic programme in
Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world as rugby, is a
Rugby union is a popular sport around the world, played by male and female players of all ages. In 2014, there were more than 6 million people playing worldwide, of whom 2.36 million were registered players.
In 1845, the first football laws were written by
Rugby union spread from the
International matches have taken place since 1871, when the first game took place between Scotland and England at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh. The
National club or provincial competitions include the
The origin of rugby football is reputed to be an incident during a game of
A significant event in the early development of rugby football was the production of the first written laws of the game at Rugby School in 1845,
 which was followed by the
Two important overseas tours took place in 1888: a
During the early history of rugby union, a time before commercial air travel, teams from different continents rarely met. The first two notable tours both took place in 1888—the British Isles team touring New Zealand and Australia,  followed by the New Zealand team touring Europe.  Traditionally the most prestigious tours were the Southern Hemisphere countries of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa making a tour of a Northern Hemisphere, and the return tours made by a joint British and Irish team.  Tours would last for months, due to long traveling times and the number of games undertaken; the 1888 New Zealand team began their tour in Hawkes Bay in June and did not complete their schedule until August 1889, having played 107 rugby matches.  Touring international sides would play Test matches against international opponents, including national, club and county sides in the case of Northern Hemisphere rugby, or provincial/state sides in the case of Southern Hemisphere rugby.  
Between 1905 and 1908, all three major Southern Hemisphere rugby countries sent their first touring teams to the Northern Hemisphere:
The New Zealand 1905 touring team performed a
Rugby union was included as an event in the Olympic Games four times during the early 20th century. No international rugby games and union-sponsored club matches were played during the First World War, but competitions continued through service teams such as the
The first officially sanctioned international rugby sevens tournament took place in 1973 at Murrayfield, one of Scotland's biggest stadiums, as part of the
In 1987 the first Rugby World Cup was held in Australia and New Zealand, and the inaugural winners were New Zealand. The first World Cup Sevens tournament was held at Murrayfield in 1993. Rugby Sevens was introduced into the
Rugby union was an amateur sport until the IRB declared the game "open" in August 1995 (shortly after the completion of the 1995 World Cup), removing restrictions on payments to players.
 However, the pre-1995 period of rugby union was marked by frequent accusations of "