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Rugby Union

Rugby - sco v rsa action

The game that we love originated in England almost 200 years ago.  William Webb Ellis is often credited as the founder of the game at Rugby School in 1823 when he allegedly caught the ball and ran with it during a game of football.  Despite there being little evidence for this he is still remembered in the game with the World Cup Trophy bearing his name.

Today the sport is played in all four continents with 102 nations ranked by the game’s governing body, World Rugby.  These range from the highest ranked teams such as world champions New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, England, Wales and Australia to the developing nations at the foot of the rankings including American Samoa, Tahiti, Cameroon and the Solomon Islands.  In the past 30 years the women’s game has grown rapidly with women’s clubs today in over 100 countries.

Rugby has featured at the Summer Olympics Games but the 15-a-side version was discontinued after the 1924 Games in Paris.  The 7-a-side version will feature in the Summer Games for the first time in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

IRB Rugby World Cup

Rugby - sco v rsa lineoutThe Rugby World Cup was first played in 1987 when the hosts were Australia and New Zealand.  New Zealand beat France 29-9 in the final to become the first champions.  Since then there have been seven tournaments.  Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have each won twice with England the other victorious team in 2003.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup will be hosted by England.  The tournament runs for six weeks from 18th September to 31st October.  20 teams will play in four pools with five teams to each pool.  The top two teams from each pool progress to the quarter finals.  Matches will be played in 13 venues including stadia usually associated with other sports eg the Olympic Stadium in London and Brighton Community Stadium, home of Brighton & Hove Albion FC. The final will be played at Twickenham.


Pool A                         Pool B                         Pool C                         Pool D

Australia                      South Africa                New Zealand               France

England                       Samoa                        Argentina                     Ireland

Wales                          Japan                          Tonga                          Italy

Fiji                               Scotland                      Georgia                       Canada

Uruguay                      USA                             Namibia                      Romania


"Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city." Oscar Wilde

“My uncle played rugby, and my dad played football, and they used to argue which game was the roughest - and everybody agreed rugby was. It's a great team sport, and to be successful, every person has to play in the same level.”  Clint Eastwood

“It's like a rugby team. If you're picking for the World Cup final, you're picking experience with youth. Everything is better off having that balance and that mix. I think that, especially, goes for the monarchy as well.”  Prince William

"The relationship between the Welsh and the English is based on trust and understanding. They don't trust us and we don't understand them."  Dudley Wood (1986)

"Tony Ward is the most important rugby player in Ireland. His legs are far more important to his country than even those of Marlene Dietrich were to the film industry. A little hairier, maybe, but a pair of absolute winners."  Mike Gibson, Wales v Ireland match programme (1979)

"In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why."  Sir Tasker Watkins (1979)


Timo Tagaloa

Timo Tagaloa 2003As an 18 year-old young player growing up in Auckland in the 1980s, flying wing Timo Tagaloa was tipped to be the new Brian Williams.  He went on to play for the country of his heritage, Samoa, at the 1991 Rugby World Cup where he was part of the team that famously beat Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.  That 16-13 win against all the odds announced the arrival of Pacific Islands’ rugby on the world’s biggest stage in what is still today, over 20 years later, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the international game.  He had a relatively short international career from 1990-1991 playing just nine Tests but scoring six tries.  Later he represented New Zealand in Sevens rugby.





Nick Farr-Jones

Nick Farr-JonesScrum-half Nick Farr-Jones played in 63 Tests for Australia from 1984-1993.  He was appointed Wallabies’ captain at the age of 25 and in 1991 he led Australia to victory in the World Cup final against England at Twickenham.  During his international career he formed a world record half-back combination with fly-half, Michael Lynagh, playing 47 Tests together.  In 2011 he was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame alongside all the other World Cup winning captains and coaches.







Tu Nu’uali’itia

 Tu Nu’uali’itiaTu Nu’uali’itia played in two Rugby World Cups for Samoa in the 1990s.  In 1991 he was part of the Samoa squad that memorably beat Wales 16-13 at the Cardiff Arms Park in what is still one of the biggest upsets in international rugby.  In the 1995 World Cup quarter-finals he scored a try at Ellis Park against the eventual winners, South Africa. Tu talks to Adrian Barnard about his passion for the sport and the impact his faith has made on his life and rugby career.







Euan Murray

Euan MurrayEuan Murray’s career began at Glasgow Warriors in 2001.  Since then the tighthead prop has represented Scotland over 60 times and in 2009 toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.  His club sides have included Northampton Saints, Newcastle, Agen and Worcester and in June 2014 he rejoined Glasgow Warriors on a one-year term.  In 2009 he set the cat among the pigeons when he announced he would no longer be playing on Sundays due to his Christian beliefs, a decision which has reduced the number of internationals he has been able to play for Scotland as well as affecting his club career.






Michael Jones

Michael Jones played 55 Tests for New Zealand from 1987-1998.  He played in the 1987 and 1991 World Cups, scoring the first try of the tournament in 1987 on the way to helping the All Blacks win the first ever Rugby World Cup.  His career was blighted by injuries giving rise to his nickname of The Iceman due to the number of icepacks he needed.  His career was also affected by his strong religious beliefs as he refused to play on Sundays.  In January 2000 he was named by Rugby World magazine as the third best All Black of the 20th century after Colin Meads and Sean Fitzpatrick.  In 2003 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.





Dan Leo

Dan LeoDan Leo is a second row forward who represented Samoa at two World Cups in 2005 and 2011.  He played 39 times for his country over ten years from 2005 before announcing his retirement from the international game in May 2015.

At club level he has played in Australia (Queensland Reds), France (Bordeaux and Perpignan) and England (London Wasps, London Irish).  He has recently joined London Welsh.




Chris Jones

Chris JonesChris Jones was a rugby player from the South Wales valleys who hated losing.  He’d do anything to win and his violent attitude often resulted in him being sent off.  Eventually he was banned for life by the Welsh Rugby Union.  Later he was reinstated but his attitude hadn’t changed and after being sent off again in a televised match he was banned for life for a second time.  He got into a fight at the Brecon Jazz Festival and was arrested.  While he was sitting in a prison cell he realised he had to change and invited Jesus Christ into his life.

That was in the late 1980s and since then Chris hasn’t been in another fight.  Today he’s a successful coach with youngsters in South Wales.  Adrian Barnard talked to him about his remarkable life and began by asking what it’s like having the tag of being the only person in the history of world rugby to be banned for life twice?



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