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rugby players
A massive tangle of body parts during
a typical rugby scrum for possession.

The rough-and-tumble sport we know today as rugby first began in the UK at the Rugby School during the 19th century.

If you think the sport is rough today, it was no match for the clashes that first began last century, when strict rules had to be put in place to prevent the hundreds of players who would participate at one time.

Regulations also helped to curtail the notorious number of major injuries that would occur within a single match!

The sport eventually split into two forms: rugby union and rugby league. Each form has its own set of rules and point systems.

One the most prominent differences between the two is that rugby league (with 13 players per side) has a system of limited tackles, whereas rugby union (with 15 players per side) is most noted for its more frequent use of the rugby scrum -- the chaotic-looking pile of players who push against each other to achieve dominance.

Each form has its fans, with rugby league generally considered the more faster-paced game. Meanwhile, rugby union remains the venue for international competitions such as the World Cup and the annual Six Nations championship.

Although modern rugby has evolved into a more relatively civilized game since its wild beginnings, it is still considered one of the most action-packed, exciting, and roughly physical contact sports in the world.

Championship Rugby - 2015 Rugby World Cup

2015 rugby world cup logoThe Rugby World Cup takes place every four years among an international array of 20 national teams. The the winner of the tournament receives the gold and silver Webb Ellis Cup, named for the man often credited as the inventor of rugby.

This year, the 2015 Rugby World Cup championship is scheduled to be hosted in the UK from September 18 to October 31, 2015 with the final taking place at London's Twickenham Stadium.

Top matches include fierce and traditional rivalries that are always the most closely-followed throughout the tournament. This year, rugby fans worldwide will be glued to the games to see who advances throughout the knockout stages for a chance to compete in the final.

Matches to watch in 2015 include New Zealand vs Argentina on September 20; England vs Wales on September 26; and England vs Australia on October 3.

ITV Sport will be the UK and worldwide host broadcaster for the 2015 event, televising every match from the tournament live in the UK on ITV and ITV4. In Australia, FOX has the complete rights to televise the matches from start to finish.

2015 Rugby kick-off times in the USA

With the game enjoying a growing popularity in the US, the Rugby World Cup will be prime viewing in the USA, as well. Watch for network NBC to broadcast the Saturday, October 24 semi-final match, along with live coverage of the World Cup final on Saturday, October 31 at 12 pm Eastern Time.

Don't forget live streams of each game available online, and at your local sports bar. The UK is five hours ahead of the Eastern time zone in North America, so it can be a challenge staying in sync with match times on this side of the Atlantic. Keep ahead of the game by checking out the complete Rugby World Cup TV schedule geared for American and Canadian audiences in ET (Eastern Time):

Fri Sept 18, 3:00PM ET 1 A England v Fiji London Twickenham Stadium
Sat Sept 19, 7:00AM ET 2 C Tonga v Georgia Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium
Sat Sept 19, 9:30AM ET 3 D Ireland v Canada Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sat Sept 19, 11:45AM ET 4 B South Africa v Japan Brighton Community Stadium
Sat Sept 19, 3:00PM ET 5 D France v Italy London Twickenham Stadium
Sun Sept 20, 7:00AM ET 6 B Samoa v USA Brighton Community Stadium
Sun Sept 20, 9:30AM ET 7 A Wales v Uruguay Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sun Sept 20, 11:45AM ET 8 C New Zealand v Argentina London Wembley Stadium
Wed Sept 23, 9:30AM ET 9 B Scotland v Japan Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium
Wed Sept 23, 11:45AM ET 10 A Australia v Fiji Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Wed Sept 23, 3:00PM ET 11 D France v Romania London Olympic Stadium
Thurs Sept 24, 3:00PM ET 12 C New Zealand v Namibia London Olympic Stadium
Fri Sept 25, 11:45AM ET 13 C Argentina v Georgia Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium
Sat Sept 26, 9:30AM ET 14 D Italy v Canada Leeds Elland Road
Sat Sept 26, 11:45AM ET 15 B South Africa v Samoa Birmingham Villa Park
Sat Sept 26, 3:00PM ET 16 A England v Wales London Twickenham Stadium
Sun Sept 27, 7:00AM ET 17 A Australia v Uruguay Birmingham Villa Park
Sun Sept 27, 9:30AM ET 18 B Scotland v USA Leeds Elland Road
Sun Sept 27, 11:45AM ET 19 D Ireland v Romania London Wembley Stadium
Tues Sept 29, 11:45AM ET 20 C Tonga v Namibia Exeter Sandy Park
Thurs Oct 1, 11:45AM ET 21 A Wales v Fiji Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Thurs Oct 1, 3:00PM ET 22 D France v Canada Milton Keynes Stadium
Fri Oct 2, 3:00PM ET 23 C New Zealand v Georgia Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sat Oct 3, 9:30AM ET 24 B Samoa v Japan Milton Keynes Stadium
Sat Oct 3, 11:45AM ET 25 B South Africa v Scotland Newcastle St James' Park
Sat Oct 3, 3:00PM ET 26 A England v Australia London Twickenham Stadium
Sun Oct 4, 9:30AM ET 27 C Argentina v Tonga Leicester City Stadium
Sun Oct 4, 11:45AM ET 28 D Ireland v Italy London Olympic Stadium
Tues Oct 6, 11:45AM ET 29 D Canada v Romania Leicester City Stadium
Tues Oct 6, 3:00PM ET 30 A Fiji v Uruguay Milton Keynes Stadium
Wed Oct 7, 11:45AM ET 31 B South Africa v USA London Olympic Stadium
Wed Oct 7, 3:00PM ET 32 C Namibia v Georgia Exeter Sandy Park
Fri Oct 9, 3:00PM ET 33 C New Zealand v Tonga Newcastle St James' Park
Sat Oct 10, 9:30AM ET 34 B Samoa v Scotland Newcastle St James' Park
Sat Oct 10, 11:45AM ET 35 A Australia v Wales London Twickenham Stadium
Sat Oct 10, 3:00PM ET 36 A England v Uruguay Manchester City Stadium
Sun Oct 11, 7:00AM ET 37 C Argentina v Namibia Leicester City Stadium
Sun Oct 11, 9:30AM ET 38 D Italy v Romania Exeter Sandy Park
Sun Oct 11, 11:45AM ET 39 D France v Ireland Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sun Oct 11, 3:00PM ET 40 B USA v Japan Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium
Knockout Stage        
Sat Oct 17, 11:00AM ET 41 - QF1 Winner Pool B v Runner Up Pool A London Twickenham Stadium
Sat Oct 17, 3:00PM ET 42 - QF2 Winner Pool C v Runner Up Pool D Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sun Oct 18, 8:00AM ET 43 - QF3 Winner Pool D v Runner Up Pool C Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Sun Oct 18, 11:00AM ET 44 - QF4 Winner Pool A v Runner Up Pool B London Twickenham Stadium
Sat Oct 24, 11:00AM ET 45 - SF1 Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 London Twickenham Stadium
Sun Oct 25, 12:00 Noon ET 46 - SF2 Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 London Twickenham Stadium
Fri Oct 30, 4:00PM ET 47 Bronze Final London Olympic Stadium
Sat Oct 31, 12:00 Noon ET 48 Final London Twickenham Stadium

* NOTE: A week earlier than the US, clocks are turned back an hour on Sunday, October 25, 2015 in the UK. The switch means that matches are four hours ahead of Eastern Time beginning on that day.

top rugby players
Besides fierce national rivalries, individual players to watch during the Rugby World Cup this year
include England's Chris Robshaw, New Zealand's Brodie Retallick, and Australia's Will Genia

2015 Six Nations schedule and TV broadcasts

six nations rugby championshipBesides the World Cup championship, each year national rivalries ignite on the field when England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France do battle for the Six Nations Championship.

This year, the games began on February 6, 2015 with last year's Six Nations champions Ireland kicking off their defense at home against Italy on February 7. Matches were played throughout the month leading up to the final featuring England vs France on March 21, 2015.

The winner? It was defending champs Ireland who claimed back-to-back Six Nations titles after their 40-10 victory over Scotland.

Six Nations broadcasts are traditionally covered in the UK on BBC, in Ireland on RTE, and in the US on BBC America with select games on ESPN.

More about rugby around the Web:

Around the Web, get in the scrum with the latest news reports from around the world with more on official rugby rules and regs, features stories on your favorite players, online tutorials and training info, pictures, wallpapers, screensavers and video clips...

World Rugby
- The world governing body for the game of Rugby Union headquartered in Dublin with news and features, quick facts, overviews and quick links to teams around the globe, results and fixtures, world rankings, the official game rules plus coaching guides and best practices, video clips.

BBC Sport | Rugby Union - Check out great reporting from the BBC including the complete TV schedule, exclusive coverage of the World Cup, Six Nations, recent audio and video clips, message boards, and photo galleries.

RugbyHeaven - Check out the latest on the World Cup, Six Nations, Tri Nations, Super 12, international and provincial coverage, including a complete tour calendar, message boards, related resources.

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