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Rugby football

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Rugby football is a sport that people play around the world. Many people play rugby in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, France, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, USA, Canada the Pacific Islands and some 100+ other countries. It is the World's premier oval ball football and is usually just called "rugby".

Rugby football is named after a school in England called Rugby school. Legend has it that one day in 1823, a senior boy called William Webb Ellis elected to run with the ball rather than retiring to kick it as was the normal mode of play in Rugby School football matches. "Running in" was not considered quite the done thing then but was later formalised in the laws of Rugby Football (first published in 1846). Association Football was not formalised until 1863 and even then allowed handling of the ball, but not catching it and running with it. In the mid 1860's an attempt was made to provide one set of laws for all football but there were irreconcilable differences (mainly concerning "hacking" i.e. dispossessing an opponent of the ball by kicking him in the shins). The "hackers" went on to eventually play rugby football even though hacking was barred a few years later; while the "anti-hackers" went on to form Association Football eventually banning any handling.

There are two types of rugby, called rugby unionand rugby league. The two types of rugby moved away from each other because they did not agree about the how players were treated when they were injured while playing a game. Rugby union is played by more people than rugby league, but many people play rugby league in the UK (especially in northern England), Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. In most other places, the word "rugby" means rugby union.

Rugby football is played on a field by two teams of 15 people. The ball is slightly pointy at both ends. At each end of the field there is a field goal made out of poles, shaped like the letter H in English. There is also an area called the in-goal. Players try to take the ball to the other team's in-goal and place it on the ground. If they do that, they score a try. A try is worth five points in rugby union. After a try, the team that scored the try then has an opportunity to kick the ball through the top of the H on the other teams side. This is known as a conversion kick. A goal that is scored from a conversion kick is worth 2 points in addition to the five points of a try in rugby union. In rugby league, a try is worth four points. After a try the scoring team, same as in rugby union, gets a chance to score a goal from a conversion kick and, once again, a goal scored from a conversion kick is worth 2 points.

To try and stop the other team scoring, players try to tackle each other. Tackling in rugby means that they try to grab the other person and stop them from moving, or make them fall on the ground. The main rule for tackling in rugby is that there should be no contact with the neck.

Every four years, there is a championship of the rugby union teams from countries all over the world. It is called the Rugby World Cup, and the next Rugby World Cup will be in 2015, in England.

There is also the Rugby League World Cup made up of member nations of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF). The tournament has an irregular schedule. The next tournament will be in 2013 hosted by the UK.

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