International Rugby Board

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Industry: Sport
Founded: 1886
Headquarters: Dublin
Country: Ireland
Employees: 50+

The International Rugby Board (IRB) is "the world governing and Law making body for the Game of Rugby Union." It was originally founded in 1886, and is currently headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Its main responsibilities include: Governance of the Laws and Regulations and their enforcement; Tournament owners and managers; Global game development through Member Unions funding via grants and Strategic Investment programmes, and delivery of Education & Development programmes; Game promotion.

The most well-known tournament under the IRB's management is the "Rugby World Cup", and it also manages version for Female leagues, Junior leagues, and other regional tournaments. The popularity of the event has been steadily growing under the IRB's management.[1]


The Organization is supporting a bid for .rugby submitted via a partnership with ROAR Domains and Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd.. The .rugby string has also been applied for by Donuts and Famous Four Media, and is consequently in contention.[2]

GAC Early Warning

The applications from Famous Four Media and Donuts were both issued a GAC Early Warning by the United Kingdom. The warning system is noted as a strong recommendation on behalf of national governments to the ICANN Board that a given TLD application should be denied as it stands. Applicants are encouraged to work with objecting GAC members.[3]

The warnings state that the application submitted in conjunction with the International Rugby Board, which is the largest, officially recognized governing body for the sport, should by given priority about the other two applications. It notes that while the application was not submitted as a Community Priority Application, it is a Community TLD, if not technically so under ICANN's rules. It recommends that the other two applicants withdraw their applications.[4][5]

In correspondence detailed below, between ROAR Domains and Donuts, the former boasted that it had recieved 4 GAC Early Warnings, including this correspondence by the U.K.[6]

IRB to Donuts

The International Rugby Board wrote to Donuts, saying, "As the global representative of the sport and the only applicant vested with the trust and representation of the rugby community, we are unquestionably the rightful steward of .RUGBY.… Without the support of the global rugby community your commercialization efforts for .RUGBY will be thwarted. We are also preparing an objection to file against your application in accordance with ICANN rules to which you will be required to dedicate resources to formulate a response."[6]

Donuts Responds

Donuts responded via Jon Nevett in a written letter to the U.K. GAC representative that it later made public on its website. The letter is directed at the GAC Representative but direcly engages correspondence received from both the IRB and ROAR Domains. He argues that Donuts would be a better steward of .rugby as it has no vested interested other than in the health and security of the TLD, and not in the rugby related content. They note that ROAR Domains seems to essentially be seeking community status even though it did not choose to apply as a community applicant. It further notes that it believes IRB's threats that they will file objections in an effort to see their competition, including Donuts, thrown out. Mr. Nevett notes that he understands the logic and looks forward to a debate about what constitutes a legitimate objection. Lastly, Jon emphasizes that it is not up to governments to pick winning and losing applications for gTLDs, despite the fact that ROAR Domains and its partners seem to hope they can do exactly this.

The full Donuts response can be seen here.

ROAR Domains v. Competition

In January 2013, Donuts published correspondence showing that ROAR Domains, which is in partnership with Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. and has the backing of the International Rugby Board, has been actively seeking ways to intimidate and see its competition disqualified from the string. This is in regards to both its .rugby and its .basketball bid, for which it has the backing of the International Basketball Federation, both are contested by portfolio-applicant Donuts. Thus, they are apparently pushing for Donuts to be disqualified outright from the New gTLD Program. Such criticism of Donuts have previously been based on allegations about poor domaining practice, such as claims that Donuts co-founder Paul Stahura was involved with an excessive amount of UDRP cases with his former company, eNom. ROAR Domains wrote to Donuts, saying, "while we have no desire to join the chorus of voices speaking out against Donuts, it is incumbent on us to pursue the automatic disqualification of Applicant Guidebook Section 1.2.1, and every opposition and objection process available to us." Section 1.2.1 focuses on the applicant background check.

ROAR seemingly also boasted about obtaining 4 GAC warnings on behalf of its applications and noted that the complaints should see their way through to official GAC Advice.[7]