The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871 as the governing body for the sport of rugby union, and performed as the international governing body prior to the formation of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1886. It has since functioned within England as a society to promote and run the sport, including organising international matches for the England national team, educating and training players and officials and acting as the governing body for England.
The RFU is structured as an industrial and provident society, owned by over 2,000 member clubs, representing over 2.5 million registered players, and forms the largest rugby union society in the world, and one of the largest sports organisations in England. It is based at Twickenham Stadium, London.
In September 2010 the women’s rugby body the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was integrated into the RFU as a “constituent body”, and whilst it retains some independence within the organisation, its adoption of RFU structures and management effectively unify the men’s and women’s sport under a single governing body.
Since 1890 the RFU has recognised the International Rugby Board as the world governing and law-making body for the game of Rugby Union. Other countries’ governing bodies are often called by a similar name for example, Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). See the IRB article for a full list of National Rugby Unions.