Rugby union is the third most popular winter sport in Australia, with its history dating back to 1864.
The principal competition in Australian rugby union is Super Rugby, which is a multi-
The Australian Rugby Championship was introduced as the next level below the Super 14 in 2007, before its demise the same year due to lack of interest. Traditional capital city competitions, such as the Shute Shield of Sydney and the Queensland Premier Rugby of Brisbane are currently the highest level of domestic competition.
The national team are the Wallabies. The Wallabies play in Australia's traditional sporting colours of green and gold. They are considered one of the top rugby nations in the world, due to their success at the World Cup, and consistently high world ranking.
The first rugby union club that was established in Australia was at Sydney University in 1864. A decade after the first club was formed, a body called the Southern Rugby Union was formed as a result of a meeting at the Oxford Hotel in Sydney, a Sydney competition was established, which was administered from the England Rugby headquarters at Twickenham. The first competition commenced the following year in 1865 with 6 teams.
The first inter-
On 2 November, in 1883, the Northern Rugby Union is formed as the rugby body in Queensland after a meeting at the Exchange Hotel. As a result of the formation of the new body, several prominent GPS schools took up rugby as opposed to Melbourne Rules. That same year, the Southern Rugby Union undertakes its inaugural tour of New Zealand, the following year, a New Zealand party comes to Australia and the first club competition is held in Queensland. In 1888 the Melbourne Rugby Union is formed in Victoria. In 1892, the rugby bodies in Australia drop Southern and Northern from their titles, adopting New South Wales and Queensland respectively. That year the first British and Irish Lions tour was carried out, although unsanctioned by official bodies in Europe, the 21-
In 1899, the national team of Australia played their first match. The Hospital's Cup becomes an annual competition in Queensland. In 1903, Australia played its first test against the All Blacks, in front of a crowd of 30,000 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In 1907, Australia again played the All Blacks, at the same venue as the 1903 match, with crowd numbers reaching 50,000. This figure would not be surpassed again by rugby union at the ground after the start of rugby league in 1908 (the SFS commenced as the Sydney rectangular venue for rugby league and union in 1988).
By the time of the 1910 British Lions rugby league tour, rugby league was well entrenched as the major winter sport in all of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, surpassing rugby union. This was a position from which rugby union would never recover in Australia.
An event that was to greatly shape rugby union's future in Australia was the onset of World War I in 1914. While rugby league, which had been introduced to Australia in 1908, continued to play in the form of NSWRL competitions, rugby union competitions were suspended due to an overwhelmingly high percentage of rugby union players enlisting to serve in the Australian Imperial Force.
Weakened by the loss of its players to the war effort, the Queensland Rugby Union was dissolved in 1919. In the aftermath of the war, a large number of national representatives would defect to rugby league, giving rugby league a strong position in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which it continues to maintain to this day.
In 1928 the QRU reformed, and the GPS and major clubs returned to rugby union. In 1931, the governor of New Zealand donated a sporting trophy called the Bledisloe Cup, named appropriately after Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe, for competition between Australia and New Zealand. The first game was held that year at Eden Park, though the official start of the competition is disputed between that game and the 1932 New Zealand tour to Australia.
The late 1940s saw the construction of a national governing body, as opposed to the NSWRU being the main organisation. In 1949, the Australian Rugby Union joined the International Rugby Board. In 1987, the first ever Rugby World Cup was held in both Australia and New Zealand, as a result of both the respective rugby bodies putting forth the idea to the IRB. Australia was defeated by France in the semifinal stage.
With rugby union becoming an openly professional sport in 1995, after more than a century of a stricly-