1886 - International Rugby Football Board (now World Rugby) established

The 1880s witnessed the Great Dispute which led to the establishment of a world body governing the laws of the game.

In the Scotland v England match in 1884 the English scored a try after a Scottish player had knocked the ball on. The Scots had stopped playing due to the infringement and called for the try to be disallowed. The English were aggrieved that they might suffer because of a Scottish error.

The dispute did not end with the match and the RFU would not allow an independent arbitration of the matter, arguing that as the oldest Union, they were the sole guarantors of the laws of the game. This led to a suspension of play between Scotland and England for two seasons, with Ireland and Wales supporting Scotland. When the RFU eventually compromised, the International Rugby Football Board was formed as the final arbiter on rugby rules. The dispute led to the introduction of the ‘advantage law’, where a referee can allow play to continue after an infringement if it is to the advantage of the team suffering the infringement.

Sir JHA Macdonald (later Lord Kingsburgh) and Major Francis Marindin acted as arbiters during the dispute and their efforts were recognised by the four British rugby associations. Lord Kingsburgh was a founder member of EAFC and had acted as gateman at the first international.