Since its invention in 1823, rugby has spread throughout England and later the rest of the world. The first few rugby clubs didn’t care much about rules, and this led to conflicts on matchdays. The rapid growth of the game in the second half of the 19th century was a significant point of rugby evolution through time.
Rugby evolution through time saw the need for a universal code of rules. In this regard, the Rugby Football Union was formed by representatives across England in 1871. In 1886, rugby crossed borders and began to take root in British colonies, hence the establishment of the International Rugby Board (IRB) to standardise the sport.
After 1924, rugby began to receive a wide international acknowledgement, with teams competing both domestically and internationally. On the other hand, the growing pool of players and high level of professionalism propelled the level of competition to a new intensity. For players, being a fit player with impressive skills was not enough, and field positions became specialised. Forwards became powerful and more oppressive, while backs had to be agile and quick to outmanoeuvre their opponents.
The modern game began to take shape in the 1980s, signalling the time was ripe for relevant stakeholders to organise a global competition. The first rugby world cup was held in 1987 and co-hosted by Australia and NewZealand. It was attended by over 600,000 people, and the numbers have grown significantly ever since. Currently, rugby is one of the most popular sporting competitions across the globe, while Rugby World Cup is the third most watched global competition, behind summer Olympics and the football World Cup.
Rugby had been an amateur sport until 1995 when the game went professional. The rapid growth and success of rugby have been attributed to an all-inclusive system of governance by world rugby, the sport’s governing body. Additionally, provincial and international game fixtures have been designed to enable players to stay in good physical shape. Moreover, the organisation has invested a large sum of funds in the legacy programme, which entails professional coaching, inclusivity, and participation.