Rugby Union - Governing Bodies

Governing Bodies

See also: International Rugby Board and Timeline of foundation of national rugby unions

The international governing body of rugby union (and associated games such as sevens) is the International Rugby Board (IRB). The IRB headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. The IRB, founded in 1886, governs the sport worldwide and publishes the game's laws and rankings. As of November 2010 the IRB recorded 118 unions in its membership, either full members or associate member countries. According to the IRB, rugby union is played by men and women in over 100 countries. The IRB controls the Rugby World Cup, the Women's Rugby World Cup, Rugby World Cup Sevens, IRB Sevens World Series, Junior World Championship, Junior World Trophy, Nations Cup and the Pacific Nations Cup. The IRB holds votes to decide where each of these events are be held, except in the case of the Sevens World Series for which the IRB contracts with several national unions to hold individual events.

Six regional associations, which are members of the IRB, form the next level of administration; these are:

  • Confederation of African Rugby (CAR)
  • Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)
  • North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA)
  • Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur – Association Européenne de Rugby (FIRA-AER)
  • Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU)
  • Confederación Sudamericana de Rugby (South American Rugby Confederation) (CONSUR)

SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) is a joint venture of the South African Rugby Union, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union that operates Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship (formerly the Tri Nations before the entry of Argentina). Although the Argentine Rugby Union initially has no representation on the SANZAR board, it has been granted input into the organisation's issues, especially with regard to The Rugby Championship.

National unions oversee rugby union within individual countries and are affiliated to the IRB. The IRB Council has 26 seats. Each of the eight foundation unions – Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France – has two seats, and Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan and the six regional associations each have one seat.

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