The sport of rugby union began life in the early 19th century and has grown to become one of the most popular team sports in the world. A full contact sport, ruby union is played using an oval shaped ball with two teams consisting of fifteen players attempting to score more points than their opponents. Although ruby remained an amateur game for a number of years, the International Rugby Board made the decision to remove restrictions on payments to players in 1995 and rugby union has had professional status ever since. The IRB has been the governing body of ruby union since its inception back in 1886.
Betting on rugby can provide some serious entertainment but also heart stopping moments for punters. Things can change very quickly in a rugby union match and a big points advantage can be wiped out in a matter of minutes when the ball is moved from player to player in the blink of an eye before a try is scored. Points can also be scored via a conversion as well as by a penalty kick or drop goal. A try is worth five points, a conversion two and both penalty kicks and drop goals gets a team two points.
The Aviva Premiership is the top domestic rugby union competition in England and consists of twelve teams. This competition began in 1987 and has slowly evolved to become one of the most popular rugby competitions in the world. Running from September to May each year, the Aviva Premiership consists of 22 rounds of matches with each side in the league playing each other both home and away. At the conclusion of the season, four teams going into a play-off which takes place in May. The winners of the two semi final matches face each other in a showdown at Twickenham, the victor of which is crowned the Premiership Champions.
In addition to the Aviva Premiership, there is a division below this level which is known as the RFU Championship. Each season, the team with the lowest points total in the Premiership is relegated to the championship. The side with the most points at the end of the RFU Championship campaign is promoted into the Premiership. As is the case with the Aviva Premiership, twelve teams also compete in the RFU Championship with a play-off at the end of the season to determine which side wins the Championship and gains promotion to the top division.
There are a number of other rugby union competitions that the top teams in England take part in including the Heineken Cup and the LV= Cup. The Heineken Cup features the very best rugby union sides in Europe going head to head in a pool stage with the eight highest placed sides of the 24 taking part progressing to a knock out competition to determine the very best team in European club rugby. The future of this tournament has been thrown into doubt in recent times however and there have been rumours that a revamped competition could take place from 2014.