The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) 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. It consists of eight member unions, representing each state and territory. It organises the Australia national rugby union team, known as the Wallabies.
The original administrative body for rugby in Australia was the Southern Rugby Union, established in Sydney in 1874. 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. 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.
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). 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.
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. The Australian team for the first match consisted of six players from Queensland and nine from New South Wales.
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. 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. 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.
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.
The record for the most international appearances in rugby union is held by George Gregan, the Australian has made 139 appearances for the Australian national rugby union team between 1994 and 2007.
The governing structures of the ARU were overhauled in December 2012, following a review authored by the former federal senator and Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib.
The ARU's members (shareholders) include the unions representing Australia's states and territories, together with the Super Rugby bodies within the country and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA). Members exercise their voting rights at the ARU's 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. The ARU also has a number of affiliated groups that do not have voting rights.
Prior to 2012, the voting franchise made no allowance for Super Rugby teams or the RUPA. The ARU simply allocated fourteen votes split as follows:NSW Rugby Union: 5
Queensland Rugby Union: 3
Other state and territory member unions: 1 each
National teamsWallabies – the national rugby union team.
Wallaroos – the national women's rugby union team.
National sevens teamsMen's 7s – the national rugby union seven-a-side team.
Women's 7s - the national women's seven-a-side rugby union team.
Other teamsUnder 20s – an age graded side that competes at under-20 level for the World Rugby Junior Championship.
Australian Schoolboys – a representative team of school players that has developed some of today's current Wallabies.
Former teamsAustralia 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.
Junior Wallabies - a former side selected from uncapped players to play against touring Test teams.
The ARU promotes and selects a Hall of Fame honour. Each year 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. One inductee must have played prior to World War 2 and the other two since the war. 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: