Rugby union in Canada

Rugby union in Canada

Sport overview
country = Canada
sport = Australian rules football

imagesize =
caption =
union = Rugby Canada
nickname =
first = 1864, Vancouver
registered = 39,000 (total)
13,000 (adult)
26,000 (junior)
clubs =
match =
league =
national1 =
club1 = North America 4
club2 = Rugby Canada Super League
club3 =
club4 =

Rugby union is a moderately popular team sport in Canada. Canada is classified by the International Rugby Board (IRB) as a tier two rugby nation alongside Fiji, Japan, Romania, Samoa, Tonga and the USA (there are ten tier one rugby nations). Tier two nations do not have a full-time professional domestic structure in place, but they are considered by the IRB to be the most promising countries in which to expand the sport. The Canadian national side have competed in every world cup to date yet have only won one match each tournament with the exception of the 1991 tournament where they reached the quarter finals.

Canada has around 13,000 seniors and twice as many junior players spread across the country, the leading domestic competition is the Rugby Canada Super League organised by Rugby Canada, the sports governing body.


Rugby football in Canada dates back to the 1860s. Introduction of the game and its early growth is usually credited to settlers from Britain and the British army and navy in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Esquimalt, British Columbia.

In 1864 the first recorded game of rugby in Canada took place in Montreal among artillery men. It is most likely that rugby got its start in British Columbia in the late 1860s or early 1870s when brief mentions of ‘football’ appeared in print. The first recorded game in British Columbia was played on Vancouver Island in 1876, between members of the Royal Navy and the Army. It was played regularly after this in Victoria by local players and sailors on the British ships stationed at Esquimalt.

The first club was formed in 1868. At that time no international agreed set of rules existed and the Rugby Football Union of England would not publish its official set of rules until 1871. Shortly after the game in Montreal, Trinity College in Toronto published the first set of Canadian rugby rules.

There was a brief resurgence in the sport, but that was halted with the war. From 1914 to 1919, only in British Columbia and Nova Scotia were there the numbers for semi-regular rugby. In most other areas the game was not played on a regular basis. It has been suggested that some kept rugby alive during the period in an effort to boost morale during the war.

Following World War I, there was an increase in rugby in Canada, as servicemen rejoined their previous clubs. In 1919, a Canadian Services teams played touring sides from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa. The Rugby Union of Canada was formed in 1929, which was followed by a tour of Japan by a Canadian side.

During World War II the sport was only played on a limited basis, with most games being played involving mainly members of the Commonwealth Forces. In 1949, there were only three active provincial unions, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Governing body

Rugby Canada is the administrative body for rugby union in Canada, every province also has its own union.

International competition

Rugby World Cup

The Canadian national team have competed in every world cup since the first tournament held in 1987. The teams best result came during the 1991 tournament, held in the United Kingdom, when they reached the quarter finals beating out Fiji and Romania before narrowly losing 19-13 to France in the pool stage then New Zealand in the quarter final.

Canada managed only one win in the 1987 Rugby World Cup (against Tonga) 1995 Rugby World Cup (against Romania) 1999 Rugby World Cup (against Namibia) and the 2003 Rugby World Cup (against Tonga) and a draw in the 2007 Rugby World Cup (against Japan).

Churchill Cup

The Churchill Cup is a tournament intended to help build depth in rugby in Canada and the USA, and an opportunity to develop new players for the England national team. The New Zealand Māori also compete. Since 2003 Canada has played host to the Churchill Cup, but has yet to make the final.

uper Powers Cup

In 2004 and 2005 Canada replaced China in the Super Powers Cup. In 2005 Canada won the tournament beating Japan 15-10.


Rugby union in Canada is rapidly growing in popularity with the national side's inception into the Super Powers Cup (which they won in 2005) and the strong performance of the national sevens team in the IRB Sevens World Series.

ee also

*Rugby Canada
*Canada national rugby union team
*Sport in Canada
*Canada national rugby union team (sevens)

External links

* [ Rugby Canada site]
* [ Rugby in Canada Dot Com]

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