History of the Zambia Rugby Union

Rugby in Zambia was first introduced by the British owing to Zambia being a British Colony in the late 1930’s and later as copper mines sprang up in the early 60’s, expatriate miners from Britain, Australia and South Africa set up rugby structures in their various localities and began playing some form of competitive social rugby amongst themselves right through to Zambia’s independence in 1964. Come late 70’s a few indigenous Zambians from the schools started breaking through the ranks to embrace it. Today 90% of the Clubs are indigenously populated. The game is largely being played under the umbrella of Amateur and is yet to go Professional.

Zambia Rugby Football Union became a member of IRB in 1995 with initially 8 Registered Clubs. Today the union has well over 16 Clubs that are affiliated across the country.

There are currently over 10,200 registered Players across all age groups.

Men-1600, Women-200, Youths -8400 (Boys 7700, Girls 700).The union is currently also trying to reconcile the numbers as it has stepped up its GIR activities across the country.

Rugby union in Zambia is a minor but growing sport. The Zambia national rugby union team is currently ranked 73rd by World Rugby.

The governing body is the Zambia Rugby Union (ZRU), which was founded in 1965, and affiliated to the IRFB in 1995.

 Not like other neighboring African countries, Zambian rugby has been a legacy of British Colonialism. Traditionally, rugby in Zambia was seen as an expatriate sport, however, over the last 20 years it has become a truly Zambian sport with the majority of its players coming up through the schools and local club system.

Zambia fifteens (XVs) rugby is played at a basic level compared to the major rugby playing nations.

Zambia has over the years built its own highly respected 7s tournament. In 1999, the Lusaka Mosi International Sevens was born, with the first tournament comprising one South African club side, two Zimbabwean and nine Zambian clubs. Past winners include the Springbok under-23s and the British Army. Zambia has beaten a number of South African Super 14 teams who have participated.


National Teams

Sevens rugby has become a strong point. The Zambia national rugby sevens team has beaten Italy and Canada in 2002 and 2003 respectively and came within 30 secs of upsetting Australia, in the end narrowly losing 10-12. Zambia has appeared on the international stage, both at the South Africa Sevens and the Dubai Sevens. Zambia also competes in the Africa Cup Competition.

The nation has an active league consisting of super 8 format with a second league comprising smaller clubs and second teaams from the super 8. the season runs from March to October and consists of a period of time for league matches, a break for sevens rugby.

League matches are played up until end of June for recess to allow concentration on sevens events. There are a number of local 7s events: the Mufulira Sevens ( the first sevens tournament held in Zambia) and the International Sevens in Lusaka. The league continues again and generally runs through to October when the knock out cup competition takes place.


In Lusaka there are four active rugby clubs namely Lusaka, Nkwazi, Green Buffaloes ( Zambia Army team) and Red Arrows ( Zambia Air FOrce). All of these teams play within Lusaka’s Agricultural Showgrounds. Lusaka Rugby Club and Red Arrows have active club houses with facilities available for members and signed-in guests.

On the Great North Road between Lusaka and the Copperbelt is the town of Kabwe, home of the Green Eagles Rugby Club and Prison Leopards.

On the Copperbelt, rugby is most popular, all towns have their own rugby teams wit a varying degree of facilities available at each club. Kitwe has two teams-Diggers Rugby Club and Kitwe Playing Fields. Diggers Rugby Club has another team, Diggers B, active in the B league. Other rugby clubs include: Nchanga in Chingola, Roan Rugby in Luanshya, Konkola in Chililabombwe and Mufulira Leopards popularly known as ‘Raggae Boys’ in Mufulira, Ndola ‘Killer Bees’ in Ndola and Chibuluma.


Kansanshi Rugby Club is in Solwezi, North Western Province. Latest inclusions are Rhino Rugby Club in Livingstone Southern Province supported by George Gregan, Zambian born Australian national 15s captain in 2002-2003, mkushi Rugby Club in Central Province Zambia. 

The Roan Antelope Club in Luanshya formerly held the record for highest goal posts in the world, and were recognised by the Guniess Book of Records- they were 110ft, 6 inches high.

First International:

East Africa 15-18 Zambia (31st August 1975)

Largest Win:

Zambia 107-9 Rwanda (9th September 2003)

Largest Defeat: 

Zimbabwe 83-10 Zambia (20th April 2002)

Namibia 83-10 Zambia (26th May 2007)


Zambia nationa rugby union team is a third tier rugby uniion side representing Zambia. they first played in 1975 and now compete on an annual basis in the Africa Cup. Rugby Union in Zambia is administered by the Zambia Rugby Union and the current President is Brigadier General Clement Sinkamba (2015-2019).

Zambia Competes in the Africa Rugby Cup and in qualifier for the Ruugby WOrld Cup, although they have yet to qualify for the tournament.

World Cup Record:

Zambia was not invited to the original Rugby World Cup in 1987 in New Zealand. They did not enter the first two tournaments that were open to qualification in 1991 annd 1995. They first attempted to qualify for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Between then and RWC 2011 qualification attempts have been very unsuccessful, with elimination coming in the 1st Round every time. The most successful attempt was for the RWC 2007 where they got through their group as winners only to be beaten by Senegal in a playoff for a place in Round 2.


Year-by-Year Record


1987: Not invited


1991: Did not enter


1995: Did not enter


1999: Did not qualify-Eliminated in 1st Round


2003: Did not qualify-Eliminated in 1st Round (Group A)


2007: Did not qualify- Eliminnated in Round 1A Playoff


2011: Did not qualify- Eliminated in 1s Round (Group B)


2015: Did not qulaify- Eliminated in 1st Round (2012 CAR Africa Cup Division 1B)