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In the years since its creation, rugby union has grown into a huge global sport.

The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event on the planet, and this success on the global stage is only possible because of the thriving school, university and club competitions in England and around the world.

One of the reasons for rugby’s rapid growth is that regardless of size, shape, age or gender, there is a type of rugby and a level of competition that is right for almost everyone.

While the conventional 15-a-side version of the sport makes the headlines, sevens, and touch are also thriving across England.

Whether you are a fan, a newcomer to the game or a hardened Sunday morning campaigner, this section will provide you with useful information from the basics of rugbythrough to playing regulations and finding a club.

Beginners’ guide to rugby union

Rugby union is a territorial, full-contact, team game, inclusive of all shapes and sizes, where 20-stone bulldozers are valued just as highly as small, pacy whippets. It is hard to imagine another British sport where 245lb prop Jason Leonard could stand in a World Cup-winning team alongside 5ft 8in wing Jason Robinson.

During the course of an 80-minute match, two sides of 15 players and six substitutes, officiated by a referee and two touch judges, try to outscore each other. The game lasts for two 40-minute halves on a grass pitch with an H-shaped goal post at each end.

If you are a newcomer to the sport, the information here will outline the basics of rugby from scoring to set pieces, so use it to increase your enjoyment when it comes to watching the big games, or as a first step in your own playing career. Even England internationals had to start somewhere…

Adult Competition Review

The Adult Competition Review Steering Group, chaired by John Douglas, worked over a two-year period in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders to produce a report and recommendations on the structure of rugby competitions in England.

The group brought together a range of research and diverse views into a set of recommendations they believe best serve the changing needs of our game. There have been extensive consultation opportunities and many groups across the game have contributed.

The changes take account of player welfare concerns and will help to reduce the financial burden on clubs, while providing meaningful competition.

The latest update on the Adult Competition Review is also available here (PDF 56kB).