STATE OF WORLD RUGBY BEFORE THE WAR: The first international competitions.while national teams has been a part of rugby since the beginning, there was no real competitions between countries for a long time. all national teams played "test" matches against each other. the home nations were largely dominant in the first years of international play, though the arrival of the original all blacks, the ban of American football and the implementation of the new rules changed the game considerably, with new zealand, Australia, France, the United States and canada gaining considerable ground, being advantaged by the new rules and, while new zealand would be the only ones to beat the home nations, the gap between them, France and their former colonies grew thinner and thinner by the year. meanwhile, other nations surrounding France began playing rugby, with Spain, Italy, Germany, portugal and the netherlands beginning to play friendlies against each other and the French. the Dutch, in particular, imported the game of rugby into their colonies. while curacao and the northern African colonies were indifferent and Belgium found the sport interesting and nothing more, it caught on like wild fire in South Africa, quickly growing into the top sport there, especially after the great war.
among the minor colonies of the Dutch empire were Indonesia and Taiwan, and while it didn't catch on like it did in South Africa or even belgium there, Indonesia and Taiwan were interested enough to at least play an international friendly against one another, marking the small, humble beginnings of rugby in Asia.
meanwhile, in the americas, the United States and Canada were experiencing a boom in rugby, with regional leagues and professional clubs beginning to pop up all across america, with the national cup competition, known as the bowl, serving as a knockout tournament. Canada, in particular, founded the first national professional leagues on the new continent. two, to be exact, with the Ontario rugby Football union forming the inter-provincial rugby Football League, which also admitted clubs from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, while western canada had the Western provinces rugby league. the champions of both leagues would then face off in a championship game to crown the national champions. the staple of Canadian rugby is the grey cup, contested since 1909 as an FA Cup-style knockout tournament for amateur and pro clubs.
on the international front, the USA eagles and Canada take part in a yearly series of games known as the battle of the border, along with their regular test matches against overseas countries. while the US would handily win the first battles, Canada grew stronger and stronger over the pre-war years, with their first victory over the Americans, in 1907, being celebrated by the maple leaf as almost a national holiday.
further down south, the Welsh and Irish immigrants stationed in Argentina spread the game of rugby throughout the Buenos Aires area. it then spread in the countries near it, like Brazil, (where every sport that is not football is a minor sport), colombia, chile, Paraguay and especially Uruguay. those six nations began establishing themselves as the top south American nations in the sport, with Argentina and Uruguay being a cut above the rest, winning all editions of the yearly copa rugby america so far.
in the Pacific, the various islands hosted the first international rugby competition: the all-Pacific championship, with new zealand and Australia squaring off against their neighbors Fiji, Samoa, papue new guinea, Tonga and Hawaii in a yearly league-style tournament held over the winter in the much bigger Australian mainland.
speaking of Australia, while the Victoria region is strictly aussie rules territory, new south Wales and Queensland are the definitive rugby territories down under, with the competing NSWRL and QRL spreading rugby's popularity across the country, thanks to their heavily-publicised yearly 3-game series of interstate matches called State of Origin.
finally, the success of the new international competitions by FIFA such as the world cup, the European cup and the recently established americas cup prompted the IRB to consider creating international competitions of their own, with the long term goal of eventually hosting a rugby version of the world cup.
in 1911, the European Rugby Federation was founded in Paris, france, and announced that, starting in winter 1913, they will organize an europe-wide league-style competition called the nations league, to replace the various friendlies and test matches between nations of the old continent.
due to being the head nation of the Federation, France automatically enters the nations league, with the home nations accepting their invitations soon after. accepting their invitations are Spain, portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, belgium, Italy, Russia, Romania and Switzerland.
the results of the first two nations league were pretty one-sided, with England claiming the first first edition by a wide margin and winning the second by only 3 points from wales, though, interestingly the home nations never swept the first four places, with France finishing in 3rd in 1913 and 4th in 1914. despite those obvious results, there were some upsets, such as italy and spain all defeating France by one try, the French showing the kind of inconsistency that would plague them for a very long time...Scotland was also upset by Italy, Romania and russia, with the latter even winning against England in 1914.
those first international competitions were a success, the crowds loving the new, faster, more offensive version of rugby instated by the IRB in 1910, and talks of organising the first ever rugby world cup grew more and more intense...unfortunately, it came to an indefinite end when the great war broke out.
once the war was over and the countries involved recovered from their wounds, the IRB announced that the first ever world cup of rugby would take place the year after the 1922 FIFA world cup, so as to have the spotlight solely on the gentleman's game. it would take place in England, the birthplace of rugby, just like the inaugural FIFA world cup in 1906.
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE 1920s