Rugby Union first originated in the 19th century in England. International matches began in 1871, England and Scotland locked horns for the first time in an international rugby match. Both the nations are amid the top ten playing nations. Based on running with the ball in hand, rugby is one of the favorite sports of people in many countries.
Here is the list of countries that hold a strong position in the Men’s rugby worldwide:
1. South Africa
The South African rugby team, nicknamed as Springboks, faced harsh Apartheid Laws and could not participate in the first two Rugby World Cups. But in 1995, South Africa witnessed a change when Springboks hosted the third Rugby World Cup final. In the keenly contested final hosts upset hot favorite New Zealand in the finals. Once again, the African nation showed its supremacy and bagged the rugby world cup in 2007, outclassed England in the final. The Springboks use all facets and techniques such as running, kicking, passing, and forward drives in their game.
Victor Matfield, Morné Steyn, Bryan Habana, and others are the greats of South African rugby players.
2. New Zealand
The New Zealand rugby team, known as All Blacks, are the undisputed champions of world rugby. The Kiwis played its first international Test match against Australia in 1903 in Sydney. New Zealand was awarded as the team of the year on several occasions by the IRB. The Black Caps bagged the rugby world cup thrice. The New Zealand National Team has produced many rugby legends, including Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Grant Fox, Ian Kirkpatrick, Christian Cullen, Andrew Mehrtens, Tana Umaga, Carlos Spencer, Richie McCaw, and Jonah Lomu. An absorbing aspect of this team is the display of Haka or Kapo-o-Panga, before every match, which we could say work as their lucky charm!
Three Lions or Red and Whites is the nickname of the English rugby team. The Englishmen first played its official rugby match way back in 1871. Since the Rugby World Cup commenced in 1987, England has participated in all the world cups. It emerged world champions of the rugby world cup in the 2003 defeated arch-rival Australia in the final. England had to settle with the runners up in the 2019 world cup lost to South Africa in the absorbing final. The nation has produced many legends, such as Nell Black, Jonny Wilkinson, Owen Farrell, etc.
The Irish Rugby Football Union was founded in 1874 and was also a founding member of the IRB. The Irish rugby team has produced several superb players, including Brian O’Driscoll, a former Irish player who played at the outside center. He remained captain of the Irish rugby team from 2003 until 2012. Experts believe that he is arguably one of the greatest rugby players of all time. He represented Ireland 133 times and eight for the British and Irish Lions.
The British introduced the rugby game to France in 1872, while France played its first Test match against New Zealand in Paris in 1906. Labeled as the best in Europe, France participates in the ‘Six Nations’ tournament every year. The French rugby team, albeit has not lifted the rugby world cup, but always entertained their fans with their remarkable display of fast and furious rugby. It is not wrong to say that the French team, the chokers, failed to cross the last-ditch. France participated in every rugby world cup since its beginning in 1987. The team reached the knock-out stage each time. France never lifted the world cup despite playing three finals, choked at the last moment. The French rugby team tagged as a bridesmaid on the rugby field. France would be the host nation in the next 2023 rugby world cup. The world will never forget some prominent French players: Thierry Dusautoir, Serge Blanco, Fabien Pelous, and others. They were known for their tremendous speed, stamina, skill, and strength.
Producing some of the finest rugby players in history, the Walsh National Rugby team played their first Test match against England in 1881. Some well-known Welsh Rugby players are J.P.R Williams, Gerald Davies, and Gareth Edwards. They are known for their sidestepping techniques as well as tremendous running. Wales has competed in the six nations tournament every year since its establishment in 1883.
The Australian rugby union is famous as Wallabies, and was one of the founders of the Rugby World Cup and jointly hosted the first world cup with New Zealand in 1987. The Aussies always try to keep their opponents on the bay. Therefore Australia lifted the rugby world cup twice in 1991 and 1999. It has produced several legends like John Eales, Stephen Larkham, Tim Horan, and many more.
The oldest of the lot, the Scottish Rugby Union, was founded in 1873. It was also a founding member of the IRB and participated in the first international match against England, where Scotland won 4-1. As a ritual, Scottish rugby players get selected every four years to play for the Barbarians against other national teams.
The Japan national rugby union team nicknamed the Cherry Blossoms, Sakura, or The Brave Blossoms. It is the only powerhouse of Asia in the rugby union. Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) administered the rugby union in the nation, established in 1926. Japan has the distinction of playing in every Rugby World Cup. It hosted the 2019 rugby world cup. Japan is among the top ten rugby playing nations, which is an achievement.
Ranked as the best side in South America, nicknamed Los Pumas, played its first international rugby match in 1910 against a touring British Isles team. Argentina had taken part in every Rugby World Cup since its beginning in 1987. The Argentina National Rugby team has grown following its success in the Rugby World Cups. Argentina is famous for offensive play, and their forwards never leave their opponents to relax. The side has some remarkable backline passing. Therefore the South American nation has made it to the top ten rugby playing nations in the world.
Here is the list of top ten World Rugby Team Rankings as of March 09, 2020:
|2||New Zealand||All Blacks||92.11|
|3||England||Red and Whites||88.41|
|4||Ireland||Ireland Rugby Union Team||84.91|
|8||Scotland||Scotland National Rugby Union Team||80.68|
|9||Japan||The Brave Blossoms||79.28|