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How Rugby and Sports Have Changed Over the Past 20 Years

by Jonathan Orchison 23 Oct 2023

The Evolution of Rugby and Sports

Sports have always been a reflection of society, and rugby is no exception. Over the past 20 years, rugby and sports as a whole have undergone significant changes, both on and off the field. These changes have shaped the way we play, watch, and perceive sports today.

1. Professionalism and Commercialization

One of the most notable changes in rugby and sports in general is the rise of professionalism and commercialization. In the past, rugby was primarily an amateur sport, but with the dawn of professionalism, players are now paid to compete at the highest level. This shift has brought increased competition, higher salaries, and a more business-oriented approach to the game.

2. Technological Advancements

The past two decades have seen tremendous technological advancements that have revolutionized the sports industry. From the introduction of video assistant referees (VAR) in rugby to advanced analytics and wearables, technology has enhanced the way games are played, officiated, and analyzed. Additionally, technology has improved the fan experience through live streaming, virtual reality, and social media engagement.

3. Inclusion and Diversity

The world of sports has become more inclusive and diverse over the past 20 years. Rugby, traditionally seen as a male-dominated sport, has made significant strides in promoting gender equality. The introduction of professional women's rugby leagues and the inclusion of women's rugby in major tournaments like the Olympics has helped to empower female athletes and inspire the next generation.

4. Safety Measures and Player Welfare

Rugby, like many other contact sports, has placed a greater emphasis on player safety and welfare. Improved medical protocols, stricter tackling regulations, and increased research on head injuries have led to a safer environment for players. The implementation of concussion protocols and the use of technology to monitor player health have significantly reduced the risks associated with the game.

5. Globalization of Rugby

Rugby has experienced a surge in popularity and global reach in the past two decades. The sport has expanded beyond its traditional strongholds and gained traction in new markets. This globalization has led to increased international competitions, such as the Rugby World Cup, and the emergence of new rugby powerhouses.


The past 20 years have witnessed remarkable changes in rugby and sports as a whole. The transition to professionalism, technological advancements, inclusivity, player welfare, and globalization have reshaped the landscape of the game. As we look ahead, it is exciting to imagine how these trends will continue to shape and evolve rugby and sports in the years to come.

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