Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia, known as the Australian Rugby Union until 2017, is the governing body of rugby union in Australia. It was officially constituted in 1949 and is a member of World Rugby (WR), the sport's international governing body. Rugby Australia has eight member unions, representing each state and territory. It also manages Australia's national rugby union teams, including the Wallabies.

Rugby Australia
SportRugby union
Founded1945(as Australian R.F.U.)
officially constituted
in 1949.
World Rugby affiliation1949
OR affiliation2000
PatronGeneral Sir Peter Cosgrove,
Governor-General of Australia
ChairmanCameron Clyne
Raelene Castle
Men's coachDave Rennie
Women's coachDwayne Nestor
Sevens coachTim Walsh (Men's)

John Manenti


The original administrative body for rugby in Australia was the Southern Rugby Union, established in Sydney in 1874.[1] Following the first inter-colonial rugby match in 1882 between the New South Wales and Queensland teams, a Northern Rugby Union was formed in Brisbane in 1883.[2] Interest in rugby developed rapidly over the next decade as matches between New South Wales and Queensland became annual events and inter-colonial fixtures with New Zealand were also arranged.[3]

The first British Isles team toured in 1888 and played 16 rugby matches in Australia (as well as 18 matches of Victorian rules, later to become Australian football).[4] Rugby at that time was the most prominent football code in New South Wales and Queensland, whereas Victorian rules was the main game in the other Australian colonies. The Southern and Northern Rugby Unions became the New South Wales Rugby Football Union and the Queensland Rugby Football Union, respectively, in 1892 and 1893.[5][6]

Australia's first international rugby match was against the touring British Isles team of 1899, a year and a half before federation established the Commonwealth of Australia. The match was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground and won 13–3 by Australia, but the tourists won the remaining three tests.[7] The Australian team for the first match consisted of six players from Queensland and nine from New South Wales.[8]

New South Wales, as the senior union, was responsible for administration of the Australian team, including all tours, until the end of the 1940s. However, the various state unions agreed that the future of rugby union in Australia would be better served by having a national administrative body and so the Australian Rugby Football Union was formed at a conference in Sydney in 1945, acting initially in an advisory capacity only.[9] Additional impetus came in 1948 when the International Rugby Football Board invited Australia specifically (rather than a New South Wales representative), to take a seat on the Board.

The constitution of the Australian Rugby Football Union was ratified on 25 November 1949 at the inaugural council meeting of eleven delegates from the state unions of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.[10][11] The ACT Rugby Union gained membership in 1972. The Northern Territory Rugby Union joined in 1978, initially as an associate union before later being granted membership and voting rights.

In 1985 the Australian Rugby Football Union was incorporated as a company and, in 1997, it became simply The Australian Rugby Union Ltd, known as the ARU.

The ACT Rugby Union became the ACT and Southern NSW Rugby Union in 2004, after two regions in southern New South Wales switched their rugby affiliation to the Australian Capital Territory.[12]

In 2017, the Australian Rugby Union was re-branded Rugby Australia,[13][14] coinciding with relocating to their new premises in Moore Park, Sydney.[15]

Qantas has had a long relationship with Rugby Australia as its major sponsor and since 2004 they have had official naming rights for the 'Qantas Wallabies'.[16][17]


The organisation's governing structures were overhauled in December 2012,[18] following a review authored by the former federal senator and Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib.[19]


Rugby Australia's members (shareholders) include the unions representing each Australian state and territory, together with the Super Rugby bodies within the country and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA).[20] Members exercise their voting rights at the annual general meeting. Under the new constitution adopted in 2012, the eight existing member unions and RUPA each provide a delegate who has one allocated vote. Additionally, each of the Super Rugby teams also provide a delegate who has one allocated vote. At this stage, only the Rebels and Waratahs are independently administered so the votes for the other three teams are effectively controlled by the respective member unions that own each team. Finally, any delegate from a member union with more than 50,000 registered players in their region is granted a second vote. Only the New South Wales and Queensland unions exceed that mark at present, so the total number of members' votes is currently sixteen.[20] There are also a number of affiliated groups that do not have voting rights.[20]

Australian Barbarians Rugby Club
Australian Junior Rugby Union
Australian Schools Rugby Football Union
Australian Services Rugby Union
Australian Women's Rugby Union
Classic Wallabies

Note: The Australian Society of Rugby Referees, and Australian Universities Rugby Union were also previously non-voting affiliates until 2005 and 2014, respectively. New South Wales Country Rugby Union and Sydney Rugby Union were also non-voting affiliates until April 2017.[21]

Prior to 2012, the voting franchise made no allowance for Super Rugby teams or the RUPA. The then ARU simply allocated fourteen votes split as follows:[20]

  • NSW Rugby Union: 5
  • Queensland Rugby Union: 3
  • Other state and territory member unions: 1 each


During the calendar years 2017 and 2018 Rugby Australia's total income was $267 million. Of that, sponsorship totalled $59 million and government grants totalled $29 million. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a fall in incomes for all major revenue categories, leaving a reduction in the total income of $30 million for 2018 compared with 2017.[22]


National teams

  • Wallabies – the national rugby union team.
  • Wallaroos – the national women's rugby union team.

National sevens teams

  • Men's 7s – the national rugby union seven-a-side team.[23]
  • Women's 7s - the national women's seven-a-side rugby union team.

Other teams

Former teams

  • Australia A – the former second-level national rugby union team behind the Wallabies.
  • Under 21s – a former age graded side that has developed players who went on to become Wallabies.
  • Under 19s – a former age graded side that has developed players who went on to become Wallabies.

Hall of Fame

Rugby Australia promotes and selects a Hall of Fame honouring notable former players. Each year two or three of Australia's greats from all eras of the international game are selected by an eight-man committee to be inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame. Inductees are drawn from all Test teams starting with the first side in 1899. Consideration is given to a player's on-field career but induction is not based on statistical achievement alone.

To be eligible for inclusion in the Wallaby Hall of Fame, a player must have:

  • Played at least one Test for Australia
  • Been retired from Rugby for at least 10 years
  • Made a major contribution to the game of Rugby
  • Demonstrated outstanding ability, sportsmanship, commitment, character and personal contribution to their team and the game in their era.

Hall of Fame members:[24]

See also


  1. Mulford 2005, p. 22.
  2. "Football". The Week. Brisbane. 10 November 1883. p.6, col. 3. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  3. "Intercolonial Football. Queensland V. New South Wales". The Brisbane Courier. 26 August 1893. p.5, col. 6. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  4. "The forgotten story of ... the 1888 Lions tour". The Guardian. 27 June 2013. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  5. Mulford 2005, p. 20.
  6. "Queensland News". Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton. 19 April 1893. p.5, col. 6. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  7. "1899 – Australia". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
  8. "The English Footballers. England v. Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 June 1899. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  9. "Australian Rugby Football Union to foster code". The Mercury. Hobart. 6 December 1945. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  10. "Union council to meet". Brisbane Telegraph. 23 November 1949. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  11. "British Rugby Union Tour". Brisbane Telegraph. 28 November 1949. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  12. "Historic change for South Coast rugby union". Batemans Bay Post. 10 November 2004. Archived from the original on 26 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  13. "Australian rugby kicks off new era as Rugby Australia" (Press release). Queensland Reds. 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  14. "Massive deal to bring annual rugby Tests to Melbourne". The Australian. 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  15. "Rugby Australia building an Australian-first high performance and education super centre" (Press release). Rugby Australia. 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  16. "Sports partnerships - Rugby Australia". Qantas.
  17. "'Qantas Wallabies". Rugby Australia.
  18. ARU 2015, p. 52.
  19. Arbib, Mark (2012). "Strengthening the Governance of Australian Rugby" (PDF 0.8 MB). Australian Rugby. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  20. "ARU takes historic step after members vote to adopt constitutional change". Australian Rugby. 10 December 2012. Archived from the original on 22 August 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  21. Papworth, Brett (12 April 2017). "Let's stop pretending it's a business when it isn't run like one". Rugby News. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  22. "Rugby Union 2018 Annual Report". Rugby Australia. 7 April 2019. p. 50.
  23. Australian Rugby Union. "Australian Sevens Rugby". Sevens Rugby website. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  24. "Michael Lynagh inducted into Wallaby Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  25. "Wallabies full-back Israel Folau wins John Eales Medal for second successive year". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 August 2015. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  26. "David Pocock wins 2018 John Eales Medal in a landslide". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 October 2018. Archived from the original on 22 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  27. "Australian Rugby welcomes three Wallaby greats into Hall of Fame". 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  28. Dunger, Ellen (31 October 2017). "Greg Cornelsen received the sport's highest honour last week". The Northern Daily Leader. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  29. "The 2016 John Eales Medal". Australian Rugby. 27 October 2016. Archived from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2016.



Member webpages

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