The first International match was played between England and Scotland in 1871. The other home nations followed with England v Ireland in 1875 and England Wales in 1881. The other countries making up what is now known as the Six Nations France and Italy played France v New Zealand 1906 and Italy v Spain in 1929.
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who make up the sides in the other annual competition the tri-nations commenced their International matches with South Africa v British Isles 1891, Australia v British Isles 1899 and New Zealand V Australia 1903.
Some other sides we should mention are Argentina who played the British Isles in 1910 and still have hopes of joining either the six nations or tri-nations, Fiji who played Tonga in 1924, Japan who played Canada in 1932 and Samoa who played Fiji in 1924.
The latest addition to the world stage is the Rugby World Cup which was first launched in 1987 and is now competed for every 4 years by the 95 countries who are members to the International Rugby Board (IRB) the governing and law-making body for the sport of rugby union. The IRB was founded in 1886 as the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) by Scotland, Wales and Ireland. England originally refused to take part, but in 1890, it became the first non-founding union to become a member. The IRB is headquartered in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
The origins for all touring sides come from the first side created the British Isles side which became known as The Lions. This side made up of players from the home nations made its first trip in 1888 to New Zealand and still travels every 4 years.
The New Zealand Maori played their first fixture against Ireland in 1888 as New Zealand Natives so have been playing for as long as The Lions. They are the New Zealand representatives in the Churchill Cup although they are more associated with playing touring sides when they visit New Zealand.
The Barbarians are a different style of side being made up of players invited from around the world. The side play matches against national sides visiting the British Isles and also regular fixtures such as versus Leicester Tigers on Boxing day. They are unique in that players wear their club socks and are thus not all dressed alike.
The Pacific Isles are the youngest of all these sides playing their first match against Queensland Reds in 2004. The side which we all hope will go from strength to strength is operating along the lines of The Lions and is a touring side, but still has hopes of being included in an enlarged tri-nations.