The Argentine Rugby Union (Spanish: Unión Argentina de Rugby, abbreviated "UAR") is the governing body for rugby union in Argentina. It is a member of World Rugby with a seat on that body's Executive Council.
The UAR organises the Argentina national rugby union team, also known as Los Pumas.
The first rugby match in Argentina was played in 1873, in the Buenos Aires Cricket Club Ground sited in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Only 24 players (all of them were English) could meet to contest the match. The teams were named Bancos ("Banks" in Spanish) and Ciudad ("City") and formed with 11 and 13 players respectively.
That same year, another match was played on the Polo Field of Flores AC, part of land owned by the Unzué family. The teams were called Inglaterra ("England") and El Mundo ("The World"). The first team was formed by Royal Navy officers that were temporarily in Buenos Aires, with the addition of some English citizens who resided in Argentina. Its rival was formed by English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people plus some Argentine-born players of English descent.
On May 14, 1874, the Rugby Football Union rules were adopted to play rugby in Argentina. Those rules were used for the first time during the match contested at Buenos Aires Cricket Club between two teams from that institution. The teams were called El bando del Sr. Trench ("Mr. Trench's side"), and El bando del Sr. Hogg ("Mr. Hogg's side").
Nevertheless, other sources say that the first game under the rules of rugby was played on Thursday, 14 May 1874, at David Mathven's country house, in Caballito, Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires FC also played the first inter-provincial rugby game in Argentina, when it faced Rosario AC in the city of Rosario, on 28 June 1886.
In 1899, clubs Belgrano AC, Rosario AC, Lomas AC, and Buenos Aires FC founded the "River Plate Rugby Championship", which would become today's Argentine Rugby Union. The body organized the first championship that same year, played by the four founding members. In the inaugural game, Lomas defeated Buenos Aires by 11-4. Lomas would be the first Argentine champion, winning the title at the end of the season.
The sport requested an affiliation with the International Olympic Committee (COI), who advised them to add Argentina to their name and so they became the "Unión Argentina de Rugby" on 29 November 1951.
This body, one of the oldest rugby unions in the world, became a member of the International Rugby Board (IRB) after being invited to the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.
When the rest of the rugby union world went professional in 1995, the UAR decided to keep the game amateur. Also, the Buenos Aires clubs split off the UAR and formed the Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires (URBA), which has the same status as other provincial unions.
Argentine players who opt to go overseas to play professionally (historically in Italy and France, with an increasing number today playing in England) remain eligible for national team selection (although this was not originally the case). As a result, the national team was heavily, though not exclusively, made up of European-based players. In 2016, the UAR formed the Jaguares team to compete in the Super Rugby. Also, it established a policy of selecting Pumas players from Super Rugby teams only, thereby excluding players from European clubs.
The first national team (under the name "The River Plate Rugby Football Union") made its debut against the British Lions (named "Combined British") when they toured Argentina in 1910 as part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Revolución de Mayo. The match was played on 12 June and the Argentina side lost 28-3.
Argentina officially joined The Rugby Championship following a meeting in Buenos Aires on November 23, 2011. They became a full member of SANZAAR, the body which operates Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in rugby union, from the start of 2016.
The Union had different names through the years. Them are detailed below:River Plate Rugby Championship (1899-1908)
The River Plate Rugby Union (1908–31)
Unión de Rugby del Río de la Plata (1931–51)
Unión Argentina de Rugby (1951–present)
Regional Unions affiliated to Unión Argentina: