Rugby union in Iceland

Rugby union in Iceland is a minor sport with a discontinuous history.


The ancient Norse had a sport called knattleikr; while this differed substantially from rugby in that it used sticks, it also had a couple of similarities to it in tackling methods and that the ball could be carried.

As a purist language, which has almost no modern foreign loanwords, Icelandic has a unique name for rugby, Ruðningur. It is perhaps the only language to use its own name for the sport which is not cognate with "rugby".[1]

Iceland was formerly a colony of Denmark, and when Denmark was occupied by Germany during World War II, British forces occupied Iceland itself. However, it is not recorded whether they played in Iceland while stationed there. Rugby itself was first played in Denmark in 1931, and did not reach Iceland – likewise, the Danish Rugby Union was founded after Icelandic independence in 1950.

Iceland became independent in 1944, and the British turned their base over to the USA which took responsibility for the defence of the island during the Cold War. What little rugby appears to have been played in Iceland seems to have been at the American base at Keflavik, by Americans, with little or no local involvement. However, while there is a large American player base, mainly by dint of a large population, rugby is a minor sport in the USA. In addition, the ?? rugby club had a website in English only.

Recent history

In 2009 a group of expats and locals started the project to create the first rugby team in Iceland. They can be found on Facebook at the Rugby félag Íslands (Icelandic Rugby Team) group.

In 2010 The Reykjavik Raiders Rugby Club was founded. The team competed in The Copenhagen Sevens in August of this year. This was the first time an Icelandic rugby team had played anywhere. They continue to train and grow and are working hard to eventually establish and develop the game in Iceland with a view to competing internationally.

Sunday 3 July 2011 is a historic event for the development of rugby union in Iceland and a major milestone for the Reykjavík Raiders Rugby Football Club. For both the Raiders, and Iceland this date marks the first 15's game played by the club and the first ever played on Icelandic soil. The game against the Thunderbird Oldboys from Phoenix (Arizona) at the Valur sports complex in Reyjkavik was a great learning step for the Icelandic team that ended with an Icelandic win.

Starting in January 2012 RKK or the Rugby Club of Kopavogur has been added to the portfolio of clubs operating in Iceland. The first game scheduled between the two Icelandic teams is scheduled to take place in April.

In February 2013 the Icelandic Exiles rugby team plays six XV games and participates to the as Vegas HSBC Invitational Rugby Tournament.[2]

The Icelandic Rugby Team plays its first official rugby 7's tournament Saturday 1 Juni in Riga at the FIRA-AER Rugby 7's.[3]

In August 2013, the Icelandic rugby team will play its first official XV game against Finland and Estonia.

They are currently affiliated to FIRA-AER, but not yet to the IRB.

See also

  • Iceland national rugby union team
  • Iceland women's national rugby union team
  • Iceland national rugby union team (sevens)
  • Iceland women's national rugby union team (sevens)

External links

  • (Icelandic)
  • Chameleons
  • Icelandic Exiles


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