Rugby football is a style of football that originated from Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union, and has influenced the development of others such as American football, Canadian football and Australian rules football. A game of rugby football developed from a version of football played at Rugby School and was originally one of several different versions of football played at English public schools during the 19th century. The game of football that was played at Rugby School between 1750 and 1859 permitted handling of the ball, but no-one was allowed to run with it in their hands towards the opposition's goal. There was no fixed limit to the number of players per side and sometimes there were hundreds taking part in a kind of enormous rolling maul. This sport caused major injury at times. The innovation of running with the ball was introduced sometime between 1859 and 1865. William Webb Ellis has been credited with breaking the local rules by running forwards with the ball in a game in 1823. Shortly after this written rules were established for the sports which had earlier just involved local agreements, and boys from Rugby School produced the first written rules for their version of the sport in 1870. In the result that the teams were still tied at the end of the match, a drop goal shootout was held. The selected kickers of the two teams would have one shot at the goal each and would take turns shooting at the goal until one of the kickers missed. Around this time the influence of Dr. Thomas Arnold, Rugby's headmaster, was beginning to be felt around all the other public schools, and his emphasis on sport as part of a balanced education naturally encouraged the general adoption of the Rugby rules across the country, and ultimately, the world.
Rugby union is both a professional and amateur game, and is dominated by the first tier unions: Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. Second and third tier unions include Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, the United States, and Uruguay. Rugby Union is administered by the International Rugby Board (IRB), whose headquarters are located in Dublin, Ireland. It is the national sport in New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Madagascar, and is the most popular form of rugby globally, with the seven-a-side version of the game, known as Rugby Sevens, having been admitted into the programme of the Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro in 2016 onwards. There is also a possibility that Rugby Sevens will also be a demonstration sport at the 2012 London Olympics. The fifteen-a-side version of Rugby Union was last played at the Olympic Games in Paris 1924, with the United States winning the gold medal, defeating France in the final 17-3. Rugby league is also both a professional and amateur game, administered on a global level by the Rugby League International Federation. In addition to amateur and semi-professional competitions in the United States, Russia, Lebanon, Serbia, Europe and Australasia, there are two major professional competitions — the Australasian National Rugby League and the European Super League. International Rugby League is dominated by Australia, England and New Zealand. Other nations from Europe and the South Pacific also play in the Pacific Cup and European Cup respectively. Distinctive features common to both rugby codes include the oval ball and the ban on passing the ball forward, so that players can gain ground only by running with the ball or by kicking it. As the sport of rugby league moved further away from its union counterpart, rule changes were implemented with the aim of making a faster-paced, more try-orientated game. The main differences between the two games, besides league having teams of 13 players and union of 15, involve the tackle and its aftermath:
* Union players contest possession following the tackle: depending on the situation, either a ruck or a maul can occur. League players may not contest possession after making a tackle: play is continued with a play-the-ball.
* In league, if the team in possession fails to score before a set of six tackles, it surrenders possession. Union has no six-tackle rule; a team can keep the ball for an unlimited number of tackles before scoring as long as it maintains possession and does not commit an offence.
Set pieces of the union code include the scrum, where packs of opposing players push against each other for possession, and the line-out, where parallel lines of players from each team, arranged perpendicular to the touch-line attempt to catch the ball thrown from touch. A new rule has been added to the line outs where you can pull the jumper down once his feet are on the ground. In the league code, the scrum still exists, but with greatly reduced importance as it involves fewer players and is rarely contested. Set pieces are generally started from the play-the-ball situation. Many of the rugby league positions have similar names and requirements to rugby union positions, but there are no flankers in rugby league.
In rugby union, the International Rugby Board the size and shape of the ball under Law 2; an official rugby union ball is oval and made of four panels, has a length in-line of 280–300 millimetres, a circumference (end to end) of 740–770 millimetres, and a circumference (in width) of 580–620 millimetres. It is made of leather or suitable synthetic material, and may be treated to make it water resistant and easier to grip. The rugby ball may not weigh more than 460 grams or less than 410 and has an air pressure of 65.71–68.75 kilopascals, or 0.67–0.70 kilograms per square centimetre, or 9.5–10.0 lbs per square inch. Spare balls are allowed under the condition that players or teams do not seek an advantage by changing the ball. Smaller sized balls may also be used in games between younger players. Much larger versions of traditional balls are also available for purchase, but these are mainly for their novelty attraction. Rugby shirts were formerly made of cotton but are now made of a cotton and polyester mix. This material has the advantage of not absorbing as much water or mud as cotton alone. The rugby jerseys are slightly different depending on the type of rugby game played. The shirts worn by rugby league players commonly have a large "V" around the neck and they also tend to be more colourful than the rugby union jerseys. The players in the rugby union wear jerseys with a more traditional design, sometimes completely white (Cahors Rugby in France). However, most of the players in rugby union wear one color jerseys with a different color stripes.The number of the player and his or her surname are placed on the upper back of the jersey (often name above number, with the number being significantly larger and more central), and the logo of the team on the upper left chest.
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