Ah, England: the birthplace of rugby union, where it all began. Legend states that the game began in 1823 at Rugby School when William Webb Ellis (who the Rugby World Cup trophy is named after), picked up a football and ran with it, creating a brand new sport in the process.
Since England rugby’s humble beginnings, rugby union has flourished in the country and now the sport is among the country’s most popular. In 2003, when the men’s England rugby union team lifted the Rugby World Cup, the sport truly reached the mainstream and players such as Jonny Wilkinson became household names. Today, the men’s England rugby union team is just as popular and players like Owen Farrell and Jonny May are regularly voted as being part of the country’s sporting elite.
The England women’s rugby union team, the Red Roses, represent England on the international stage and regularly bring home international honours. They’ve won the Women’s Rugby World Cup, the Women’s Six Nations Championship and the Women’s European Championship in recent years.
At the domestic level, rugby union is also a thriving sport. The 12-team Gallagher Premiership is the top level of England rugby domestically, and is fully professional. This is followed by the RFU Championship (which was formally National Division One) and National League 1, which is semi-professional. The top six teams from the Premiership also represent England rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup.
According to World Rugby, rugby in England has never been in a stronger position. Now, the country is home to 1,900 rugby union clubs locally and over 170,000 people play rugby at least once a week. Plus, because England rugby is regularly shown by major media outlets, it’s easy to see how the game will continue to grow in the coming years.
Read below to learn more about England rugby, including all the latest news on the men’s England rugby team, the women’s team and the Premiership rugby clubs, among others.
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