When did rugby become an Olympic sport?

Rugby union, with 15 players per side, was featured on the men's Olympic program a total of four times, beginning in 1900. After a long hiatus, specifically 92 years after the 1924 Games, rugby was brought back in the form of rugby sevens. It debuted at the Olympics for Rio 2016. Twelve nations qualified for the men’s and women’s tournaments, respectively. 

What sport did rugby evolve from?

Rugby evolved from soccer, as explained by World Rugby. It is believed to have started during a game of football when a young man named William Webb Ellis picked up a ball with his hands during a game of soccer at a high school in Rugby, England, and ran toward the opposition's goal line. 

Since then, rugby went on to become what is now the No. 2 sport across the world. The game also keeps some elements from soccer in it, such as being able to kick the ball during drop kicks. 

Did rugby exist before American football?

Although rugby was believed to have started in the early 1820s, it only became an official sport just two years before American football did. In 1871, the official codified rules of rugby were drawn up, while rules for American football were drawn up in 1873. 

Both sports share a lot of similarities. Players run through a goal line or kick the ball between two posts to score points and tackle opposing players to stop them from scoring. However, the positions in each sport are different and rugby is more of a global sport compared to American football. 

How did rugby sevens become an Olympic sport?

After the continuous growth of the sport despite it no longer being played at the Olympics, members of the Olympic Programme Commission recommended to the IOC Session that rugby should be brought back during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, the request did not go through, but members of World Rugby continued to push for the sport to be installed at the Olympics in the form of rugby sevens. After an IOC session in 2009, IOC members voted in favor of including rugby sevens for the 2016 and 2020 Games. 

Which countries have won gold in Olympic rugby history?

In the men’s tournament at the Rio Olympics, Fiji dominated Great Britain in the gold-medal match, winning 43-7. In the bronze-medal match, South Africa blitzed Japan 54-14. In the women’s tournament, Oceania rivals Australia and New Zealand played out a tight and emotional final match, with Australia claiming the gold medal, 24-17. Canada overcame Great Britain, 33-10, to secure bronze. 

At the Tokyo Games, the Fiji men's team was able to successfully defend its gold medal. The small island nation, where rugby sevens is the national sport, defeated New Zealand, 27-12. In the bronze-medal match, Argentina defeated Great Britain, 17-12. In the women's competition, New Zealand was seeking redemption five years after suffering a surprise loss to Australia during the final in 2016. The Black Ferns didn’t hold back, defeating France, 26-12, to win the gold medal. It was the first gold medal for New Zealand in rugby. Fiji defeated Great Britain 21-12, marking the country’s third-ever Olympic medal (the other two being in men’s rugby sevens). 

When the traditional form of rugby was used in the Olympics, the following teams won gold in the following years: 

Paris 1924: United States
Antwerp 1920: United States
London 1908: Australia 
Paris 1900: France