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World Rugby 1951 - Date


Uruguay Rugby Union founded.


To acknowledge that England have won all their Five Nations games that year, ‘The Times’ uses the expression ‘Grand Slam’. This is possibly the first time the expression is used in this context.


First Scotland tour, to South Africa. This is the first short international tour. Even though the tourists lose the Test, the tour itself is seen as a success and, in the way in which it is set up and conducted, sets the standard to follow.


Cote d’Ivoire Rugby Federation founded.


First England tour, to New Zealand and Australia. The tourists play three Tests in 11 days and lose them all.


First Wales tour, to South Africa. The tourists win the majority of their games but the only Test sees them suffer their biggest Test defeat in 40 years, 24-3.

Georgian Rugby Union founded.


Canadian Rugby Union founded.


United States of America Rugby Union founded.


France becomes a member of the IRFB.1980

First Italy tour, to New Zealand. The tourists win two of the five matches but do not play any Tests.


Anti-Apartheid demonstrations lead to the disruption of the South African tour of New Zealand. Games are cancelled and, in the final Test, a plane drops flour bombs and pamphlets onto the pitch while the game is in progress.


First women’s international match between France and the Netherlands in Utrecht.


Formation of the Women’s Rugby Football Union covering the countries of the British Isles.


New Zealand ‘Cavaliers’ travel for an illegal and unofficial tour of South Africa. This leads to the players having a ban imposed on them by the NZRFU when they return home. Allegations that they had received payment for playing are never proven.

Canada becomes a member of the IRFB.

First women’s international for Great Britain against France at Richmond Athletic Park.


First Rugby World Cup tournament is held in Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand defeat France in the final 29-9 at Eden Park, Auckland.

Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Japan, Romania, Tonga, USA and Zimbabwe become members of the IRFB.

First women’s international matches for England and Wales.


Cote d’Ivoire, Spain and Samoa become members of the IRFB.


Uruguay becomes a member of the IRFB.


Namibian Rugby Union founded. Namibia becomes a member of the IRFB.


Second Rugby World Cup tournament is held in the British Isles and France. Australia defeats England in the final 12-6 at Twickenham, London.

First Women’s Rugby World Cup competition in Cardiff. USA beat England 19-6 in the final.


South Africa plays first international fixture since 1984 after their Apartheid policies are repealed. They lose to New Zealand 27-24.

Georgia becomes a member of the IRFB.


Rugby Football Union for Women formed.

Second Women’s Rugby World Cup,  in Edinburgh. England beat USA 38-23 in the final.


Third Rugby World Cup tournament is held, in South Africa. South Africa defeats New Zealand in the final 15-12 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg (after extra time).

26 August – After years of revision to the amateur regulations of the game, the IRFB concludes that the only way to keep control of rugby is to declare the game ‘open’. The regulations relating to amateurism are replaced by regulations relating to the game. Therefore there are no longer any restrictions on payments or benefits to those connected to rugby union.


The Tri-Nations Tournament involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa begins, played on a home and away basis. New Zealand win all four matches and become the inaugural champions.


The white card and ‘sin bin’ are introduced by laws committee to discourage the ‘professional’ foul. These will later become yellow and red cards.


The International Rugby Football Board drops the ‘F’ to become the IRB.

First official IRB-sanctioned Women’s Rugby World Cup held, in Amsterdam. New Zealand beat USA 44-12 in the final.


Scotland are the last winners of the Five Nations Championship.

Fourth Rugby World Cup tournament is held, in the British Isles and France. Australia defeat France in the final 35-12 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

First women’s Five Nations Championship.


The Five Nations become Six when Italy joins. They win the first game of the new championship by defeating Scotland 34-20 in Rome.


6 April – France become the first team to win a ‘Grand Slam’ in the Six Nations Championship.

France win the first women’s Six Nations Championship.

Women’s Rugby World Cup is held, in Barcelona. New Zealand beat England 19-9 in the final.


Fifth Rugby World Cup tournament is held, in Australia. England defeat Australia 20-17 in the final at Stadium Australia, Sydney.


Women’s Rugby World Cup is held, at Edmonton in Canada. New Zealand beat England in the final.


South Africa win the sixth, and their second, Rugby World Cup by defeating England 15-6 in the Stade de France, Paris.


New Zealand win thier fourth consecutive Women's Rugby World Cup by defeating England 13-10 at the Twickenham Stoop Stadium.


New Zealand defeat France on home soil, 8-7, to claim the seventh and thier second Rugby World Cup.