There are two main types of rugby football: rugby union football and rugby league football. Both can trace their ancestry back to a style of football played at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England. Rugby league football is the result of a split from the Rugby Football Union in 1895 over the issue of player payment.
This article is about rugby union in Asia, where the popularity of rugby union is growing at a fast pace.
Rugby union in Asia
Rugby union is becoming increasingly popular in Asia, partly thanks to all the publicity gained by the flagship tournament Asian Five Nations, a competition launched in 2008. In 2019, Rugby World Cup will, for the first time in history, take place in Asia. The host country is Japan, but certain matches will take place in Hong Kong or Singapore.
In Asia, rugby union is governed by the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU). The dominating country is Japan, the only Asian nation with a seat in the executive council of the International Rugby Board (IRB). At the time of writing, Japan is the only Asian country to have participated in the Rugby World Cup. As of 2011, they have qualified for all seven tournaments, including the upcoming 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)
The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) was formed in 1968. The federation is under the authority of the International Rugby Board (IRB) and has its headquarter in Hong Kong.
Armenia, Cyprys, Georgia, Israel and Russia are not members of ARFU, despite being partly or completely located in Asia. Instead, they belong to the European FIRA - Association Européenne de Rugby (FIRA–AER). Despite being a part of European associations for several other major sports, Kazakhstan has elected to be a part of ARFU. Guam is a part of ARFU despite being located in Oceania. Indonesia, located in both Asia and Oceania, is also an ARFU member.
ARFU arranges both regional and international rugby union tournaments in Asia, including the Asian Five Nations competitions and the Asian Sevens Series. There are competitions for men, for women and for youths under the age of 19.
The Asian Sevens Series is like an Asian version of IRB Sevens World Series.
Asian 5 Nations
Asian 5 Nations (formally named the HSBC Asian 5 Nations after its sponsor, HSBC Holdings) is an international Asian rugby competition where the top five Asian rugby union teams vie against each other. Asian 5 Nation takes place once a year on five consecutive weekends in April and May. The first event took place in 2008 and included teams from Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kazakhstan and the Arabian Gulf.