The 20th anniversary of the professionalisation of rugby union comes amid calls for steps to tackle the growing issue of concussion. The number of incidents of the sport's most common injury soared by 59 per cent among British Premiership players last season.
* Rugby football is claimed to have arisen in 1823 during a game of football at Rugby School, a private fee-paying school in England, when one William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it. The Rugby World Cup trophy is named after Webb Ellis.
* The popularity of the game in the North of England, led to the gate takings by the Northern League clubs sometimes being greater than those of International matches held in London. This led to more professional trainers and to a different attitude about what constitute acceptable compensation for loss of earnings if a working player lost money when they played games on a Saturday, the working week at that time being six days. This resulted, on August 29, 1895 to the announcement of a Northern Rugby Football Union, separate from the Rugby League. It was an immediate success.
* August 26, 1995, 99 years and 364 days after the 1895 decision to break away, an historic decision was taken by the International Rugby Football Union Board to allow professionalism in the Union game, so that players could share in the money flowing into the game from advertising and TV coverage.
Date written/update: 2015-07-24