200 Years Of Rugby

29 May 2023 |

In a year when rugby will mark its 200th birthday, Sir Bill Beaumont reiterates World Rugby’s ongoing commitment to advancing player welfare and women in rugby as the excitement and anticipation for the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France grows. According to legend, William Webb Ellis grabbed the ball and took off running while showing a fine disregard for association football regulations. A new sport emerged.

Therefore this year, we celebrate 200 years of rugby! We start what will be a huge year for rugby with that same sense of wonder, zeal, and innovation. As we prepare for what will be a very special Rugby World Cup in France with the introduction of WXV and make further decisive steps to advance the sport as a spectacle with player welfare firmly at its core, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic.

World Rugby’s Commitment

Rugby must continue to change in the rapidly evolving post-pandemic world, just like all other sports. Rugby must continue to advance in all areas. From player welfare and fan engagement to financial and environmental sustainability, if it is to become more appealing, more relevant, and more accessible to more people. And for it to become a truly global sport in the face of escalating entertainment demand as well as growing concern over social and environmental issues.

World Rugby started 2023 with that global goal in mind and to celabrate 200 years of rugby in an epic fashion. On January 1, new legal directives went into effect that are intended to speed up play, improve safety. And also improve the overall experience for players, spectators, and match officials. There will be less reliance on the television match official, less waiting around before scrums and lineouts, and the use of “shot clocks,” among other directives. Looking ahead, we can anticipate additional, more significant legal changes at the elite, community, and youth levels that will further improve the spectacle. While also highlighting World Rugby’s commitment to player welfare.

While it will take some time for these changes to take effect, World Rugby still values feedback. World Rugby is a movement, not just a company or a sports association, and they want to develop the game with your input at the centre of everything they do. In order to achieve this, they launched the sport’s largest-ever consultation. This is building on the work done at the recent Shape of the Game Conference as they work to create a better, stronger, and more appealing sport as a whole. 

RWC 2023

Given how competitive the world rankings are, the Rugby World Cup 2023 will feature the very best in the game both on and off the pitch. You can anticipate an exciting and unpredictable race to win the Webb Ellis Cup. France 2023 will be a suitable 200th birthday celebration, just as a groundbreaking women’s edition in New Zealand in 2022 broke down barriers and elevated personalities to the fore. They also captured the attention of new supporters around the world.

As we launch into a decade of top-tier events that culminates in the USA hosting its first 15s Rugby World Cups, rugby’s growth ambition will be on display. It is so exciting to welcome Chile to the Rugby World Cup for the first time in the year we celebrate 200 years of rugby! And we all know that France will be the most vivacious and hospitable of hosts. Have a look at our 2023 Rugby Wrap article to see where the teams strengths lie thus far. We also had a look at some of the previous hosting countries in our Rugby World Cup 2023 article.


On-field events aside, 2023 will be a year of firsts. The three-tiered WXV competition begins in October 2023. It demonstrates World Rugby’s commitment to women in rugby. It will also foster a high-performance environment that will support increased competition at an expanded Rugby World Cup in England in 2025. This competition will also provide certainty for an annual competition for the first time. A structure for the annual men’s competition that could start in 2024 is currently being discussed. We are excited to announce that South Africa secured the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup Division 1 2023 title. Therefore their place in WXV 2!

HSBC 7’s Series and other

Other noteworthy events we kept an eye out for was the beginning of rugby sevens qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the redesign of our HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Then the return of the U20 competitions, and the chance for the next generation of men’s game stars to make their mark. In order to support their mission of growth, World Rugby has continued to change throughout the year. They have been working hard with everyone in the sport to grow the sport globally at every level in accordance with their strategic mission . Including with men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups assured through 2033, and the first hosting by the USA.

Six Nations

This year we have already been spoiled with so much rugby! From the TikTok Six Nations to the Guinness Six Nations. And both were edge of your seats rugby. Ireland won the Men’s Six Nations and England claimed a second successive TikTok Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam. We are looking forward to what 2024 holds for all these tournaments.


The Try and Stop Us campaign was introduced by World Rugby in 2019. They used the motivational tales of 15 “Unstoppable” women from around the world.

Regional associations and member unions have now  also conducted their own “Unstoppables” searches, with amazing results. We will elaborate on this in more detail separately at some point.

Supersport are also running a campaign in 2023 focussing on women’s sport, the Here For Her initiative has placed a big spot light on women’s sport thus far. Have a look at our detailed article, Here For Her 2023, for more interesting details.

200 Years Of Rugby – Final Words

In conclusion, unwavering attention to player welfare serves as the foundation for everything. 2022 was a year that focused on welfare in rugby by putting a six-point plan into action. However, World Rugby cannot and will not remain motionless. Independent, peer-reviewed research from their renowned smart mouthguard studies will be released this year as well. This information will shed new light on the situation and serve as the foundation for further improvements. Specifically in welfare-supporting regulations, procedures, and laws.

There will also be advancements in relation to the other key principles of the welfare strategy. Such as dedication to ex-player support and education. All of this will contribute to rugby maintaining its position as the sport with the most player welfare advancements.

Sports are emotional. It produces priceless moments and fascinating discussion topics. We are riveted by the threat of drama and the possibility of the unexpected. The culture of respect between players, coaches, and match officials is a cornerstone of rugby! And we must never lose sight of it in the midst of all this. Collectively, all involved must make sure to constantly advance, defend, and uphold this credo.

Popular Rugby Betting Sites

South Africa has no shortage of online betting sites and many of them are excellent choices for rugby betting. Have a look at our Rugby Promotions 2023 article to see what is on offer at the moment. In the run up to the RWC 2023 there will surely be more rugby promotions to test out. Great choices are Supabets, Palacebets, bet.co.za, Gbets and Betway. So in celebration of 200 years of rugby why not give one of these best betting sites a try while watching some great rugby!

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