Rugby Union is a team sport, so your individual contribution need stretch no further than basic kit (shirt, shorts, socks and boots) and a rugby ball.
However, with injuries such a big issue, protective gear is used by professionals. A gum shield is a necessity, while head protection (usually made from light plastic material and a big advantage for front row players) and body protection (mainly lightweight support for the shoulders and chest, reducing the impact from a tackle) can also be highly beneficial.
To get started with equipment, you can try any good high-street sports store, or the following online links:
One fantastic free website for beginners across the UK is the BBC Rugby Union microsite. Packed with articles from top professionals, as well as videos and detailed explanations on various rugby union skills in their Sports Academy, it’s the perfect starting point for all those new to the sport.
Rugby union is a staple in most schools across the country, and there are a whole host of school competitions, many of which hold some relationship with the RFU. For more information, check the Community Rugby RFU website.