Rugby in Catalonia
Rugby is a popular sport in Catalonia, and here they play both rugby league and rugby union.
The Catalonian Rugby League is governed by the Catalan Association of Rugby League, which became an official member of the RLEF, in the last quarter of 2008. Over the years the sport has gained in popularity in the northern parts of Catalonia, where the Catalans Dragons, a Catalonian Rugby club, has participated in the Super League, which is primarily dominated by British clubs. The Catalans Dragons are contributing to the creation of a rugby league in the South of Catalonia, through participation in the development of such a league.
3 Catalonian teams participated in the first official competition that was organized in 2008, and 9 teams participated in the first official Championship of Catalonia, that was held one year after. Catalonia's National team officially competed for the first time in 2009 against Morocco and Belgium. Before the official match, two test matches were held against the Czech Republic and Morocco.
During the last part of the 19th century, The Rugby Union was established in the North of Catalonia, while in the South it took until 1921, to do the same. One year later the Catalan Rugby Federation was born, which was one of the original participants of the FIRA Association of European Rugby, which was situated in Paris, France. The Federation got expelled during the reign of Franco, and has not been let back in ever since.
In the North of Catalonia the best known Catalonian club is USA Perpignan, who compete on a European level and are also playing in the Top 14 of France, while in the South of Catalonia, UE Santboiana is the most famous, having been the victor in the Spanish championships no less than 7 times along with FC Barcelona. Both teams play in the honor Division.
Not only in Catalonia, but in the whole of Spain, Rugby is growing in popularity among the people. The national team competed in the Rugby World Cup of 1999 and is regarded to be among the stronger European teams not competing in the 6 Nations Championship.
On a national level the sport is organized in divisions, with approximately 14,000 registered players, roughly 700 of them female. The Nation presently has 214 Rugby clubs, and the nation is ranked at number 22 worldwide.
Rugby league started out in the Catalonian parts of Spain, where it was played in the Northern French parts of Catalonia. Ever since the Catalans Dragons started participating in the European Super League attempts were made to spread the sports to the Spanish parts of Catalonia. This in turn has resulted into establishing a Catalan league.
Rugby league is regulated by the Associació Catalana de Rugby Lliga, which was established in 2007, and has been responsible for organizing the Catalan competitions ever since. The organization became a Rugby League European Federation member one year later, but has yet to obtain a rank. In the south or France the North Catalonian version of the sport is regulated by the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII.