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Although Argentina is the best-known rugby playing nation in South America, founding the Argentine Rugby Union in 1899, several other countries on the continent have a long history. Rugby had been played in Brazil since the end of the 19th century, but the game was played regularly only from 1926, when São Paulo beat Santos in an inter-city match. It took Uruguay several aborted attempts to adapt to rugby, led mainly by the efforts of the Montevideo Cricket Club; these efforts succeeded in 1951 with the formation of a national league and four clubs. Other South American countries that formed a rugby union include Chile , and Paraguay .

Forward passing (throwing the ball ahead to another player) is not allowed; the ball can be passed laterally or backwards. The ball tends to be moved forward in three ways — by kicking, by a player running with it or within a scrum or maul. Only the player with the ball may be tackled or rucked. When a ball is knocked forward by a player with his/her arms, a “knock-on” is committed, and play is restarted with a scrum.

Prior to 2016, all substitutions, no matter the cause, counted against the limit during a match. In 2016, World Rugby changed the law so that substitutions made to replace a player deemed unable to continue due to foul play by the opposition would no longer count against the match limit. This change was introduced in January of that year in the Southern Hemisphere and June in the Northern Hemisphere.

Three quarters There are four three quarter positions, the inside centre, outside centre and left and right wings. The centres will attempt to tackle attacking players; whilst in attack they should employ speed and strength to breach opposition defences. The wings are generally positioned on the outside of the backline. Their primary function is to finish off moves and score tries. Wings are usually the fastest players in the team and are elusive runners who use their speed to avoid tackles.

Rugby union was an amateur sport until the IRB declared the game “open” in 1995, removing restrictions on payments to players. However, the pre-1995 period of rugby union was marked by frequent accusations of “shamateurism”, including an investigation in Britain by a House of Commons Select committee. Following the introduction of professionalism trans-national club competitions were started, with the Heineken Cup in the Northern Hemisphere and Super Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere.

The earliest countries to adopt rugby union were England, the country of inception, and the other three Home Nations, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The spread of rugby union as a global sport has its roots in the exporting of the game by British expatriates, military personnel and over-seas university students. The first rugby club in France was formed by British residents in Le Havre in 1872, while the next year Argentina recorded its first game: ‘Banks’ v ‘City’ in Buenos Aires.

Several island nations have embraced the sport of rugby. Rugby was first played in Fiji circa 1884 by European and Fijian soldiers of the Native Constabulary at Ba on Viti Levu island. Fiji then sent their first overseas team to Samoa in 1924, who in turn set up their own union in 1927. Along with Tonga, other countries to have national rugby teams in Oceania include the Cook Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

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