Although Rugby is thought to have been played in Queensland as far back as 1876, the first interstate matches were played between Queensland and New South Wales in 1882.
The decision to form a rugby union association in Queensland was made on 2nd November, 1883 at a meeting at the Exchange Hotel in Brisbane (now known as the Stock Exchange).
Prior to this, Melbourne Rules (AFL) was the dominant football code with both codes being administered by the Queensland Football Association (QFA).
The new rugby body, named the Northern Rugby Union, came about due to dissatisfaction with the treatment rugby received from the QFA. Such was the interest and development of union in Queensland, the major GPS schools changed from Melbourne Rules to rugby, starting the premier school competition that still exists today.
In 1893 the Northern Rugby Union was formally constituted and changed its name to the Queensland Rugby Union.
The first organised club competition started in 1884 but it wasn't until 1899 that a formal annual trophy was played for, the Hospital Cup, which is still contested by Queensland Premier clubs.
However in the early 1900s, starting with the advent of rugby league, rugby union took a downturn in Queensland. In 1908 the QRU banned players for playing rugby league in Sydney, thereby giving birth to league in Queensland. The major shift occurred in the country where rugby league promoted itself strongly and provided greater access to representative teams than union.
The effect of league developing, compounded with the First World War, was immediate and strong with major clubs and the GPS schools all changing to league, which effectively lead to the disbandment of the Queensland Rugby Union in 1919.
In 1928 the QRU re-formed and the GPS competition and major clubs returned to rugby union due to infighting amongst league officials. While the game struggled during the Second World War, it continued to grow in many regions. This led to the establishment of the Queensland Junior Rugby Union in 1961 and the Country Rugby Union in 1963.
In 1950 QRU secured the use of Normanby Oval at nominal rental from BGS Board of Trustees before moving in 1966 to what was to become the spiritual home of Queensland Rugby, Ballymore, under deed of grant by the state government.
After paying a secretary to carry out various tasks through the 60s and 70s, Terry Doyle was employed as the first Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Rugby Union in 1980. Terry stayed with the QRU through to September ,1996 and saw the organisation grow from one person to 32.
The first offices of the QRU were located under the McLean Stand at Ballymore from 1980 through to 1997 before part of the organisation moved to Mallon St, Bowen Hills. The Reds staff remained at Ballymore and were joined by the Reds Rugby College staff after their current facility was built in 1998.
In 2004, the QRU administration staff also made the move back to Ballymore, bringing the entire organisation together in one location.
"Red! Red! Red! The Story of Queensland Rugby" by Ian Diehm was published in 1997 by Playright Publishing. Copies are available from Queensland Rugby for $45 (plus $5 p&h).