Rugby comes in two varieties. The more popular form known as Rugby Union is played internationally by three levels of play. The first tier unions include South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, France, Wales, Argentina, Scotland, Italy, and England. Lesser union tiers are comprised of the United States, Tonga, Romania, Namibia, Japan, Uruguay, Canada, Fiji, Chile, Samoa, and Portugal. Rugby League is slightly different in rules but is also played internationally to a smaller overall audience than Rugby Union. When spectators think of Rugby, they are almost always thinking of Rugby Union.
In Rugby Union, here in referred to simply as Rugby, the teams are composed of fifteen players each. The game is played outdoors and is full contact according to International Rugby Board rules for the sport. It has also been an official Olympic Event at the 1900, 1908, 1920, and 1924 Games. While American Football, as well as many other national sports, derives their roots from Rugby, they are often played radically different. For example, there is no forward pass in Rugby, whereas the forward pass was eventually made a legal act in American Football. Rugby is also continuous play for the most part, while American Football is divided into clearly defined periods of active play and resetting. There are periods of stopping play, but generally it continues until stopped by a referee in the case of awarding a ruck, maul, scrum, line-out, or tackle.
Rugby can be watched at any number of stadiums or stadiums. International games have been played at the Telstra Dome Stadium, ANZ Stadium, Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Twickenham Stadium, Perc des Princes, Stade De France, Suva Stadium, Croke Park Stadium, Eden Park, Stadio Flaminio, Lansdowne Road, Murrayfield, Ellis Park, and Millenium Stadium. International Rugby games are often cause for increased security at games because of the well known stereotype of Rugby fans being referred to as “ruffians” or “barbarians” often known to enjoy too much alcohol and start fights. While some may not believe in rugby culture, others may feel it’s the fans that make the sport. Aside from the particular international games, there are also special events and conferences that take place as well. These include the Six Nations Competition, Heineken Cup Games, Challenge Cup Games, English Premiership, Magners League, and the French Top 14.
Rugby, with its violent first impressions and no holds barred game play, is actually very well organized and extremely precise in execution upon second glance. Anyone interested in finding out more, should try to find a local team and order tickets to a game. The rules are very defined and there will be no shortage of fans ready to illuminate the dark spots and the who or why of what. Have fun!