The All Blacks are by far the most popular rugby team globally. New Zealand as a country only has a population of 4.8 million but the team has won the hearts of millions of rugby fans around the world. New Zealand won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987 and also won it in 2011 and 2015.
New Zealand teams have played test rugby matches against 19 nations, of which 12 have never won a game against the All Blacks. Cementing their status as the best rugby team in the world, the All Blacks have held the number-one World Rugby Ranking ranking longer than all other teams combined.
New Zealand’s first match took place in 1884 in New South Wales, and their first international test match was in 1903 against Australia.
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Ever since their first test match in 1871, England have long been a powerhouse in world rugby. They have won the Six Nations championship on a total of 28 occasions, winning the Grand Slam 13 times and the Triple Crown 26 times – making them the most successful outright winners in the tournament’s history.
The were crowned Rugby World Cup champions once in 2003 and have been runners up 3 times.
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South Africa / Springboks
South Africa played their first test match against a British Isles touring team in 1891.
South Africa and New Zealand are two of the great rugby rivalries and are consistently ranked 1 & 2 in World Rugby rankings, and while the win ratio is in the All Blacks favour, the men in green have beaten the All Blacks more than any other team in rugby union. This is one rivalry that will keep going for some time.
They match the All Blacks 3 World Cup wins, most winning the 2019 tournament.
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In recent years Ireland have punched well above their weigh in world rugby, reached number 1 in the World Rugby Rankings for the first time in 2019. The Irish national rugby team dates to 1875, when it played its first international match against England.
The Irish team has had great success through the years in the Six Nations but a place past the Rugby World Cup quarter finals still eludes them. Irish clubs teams play in the Pro 14 and Champions Cup Rugby
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France played their first test match in 1906 against New Zealand and joined the Five Nations in 1910. They won their first Grand Slam in 1968 and since then they have won the title outright 17 times, including nine grand slams.
After England France are the second most successful European team in the Rugby World Cup, they’ve reached the final three times and semi finals once.
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The Welsh rugby team have played internationally since 1881, they’ve played in the Home Nations / Five / Six Nations Championship since it was established in 1883. They have won the tournament outright 27 times, most recently in 2019, in which they also secured the Grand Slam.
Wales have also played in every World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. Their best finish was 3rd place in 87.
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The Scottish rugby team dates all the way back to 1871, where they beat England in the first international rugby union match. Scotland have competed in the Five / Six Nations from the inaugural tournament in 1883, winning it 14 times outright. They have won the Grand Slam 3 times, in 1925, 1984 and 1990.
Scotland’s best finish in a World Cup was in 1991, where they lost to New Zealand in the third place play off.
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Australia / Wallabies
The Australian national team played their international match at Sydney in 1899, winning their first test match against the touring British Isles team. They have won 2 Rugby World Cups and also finishing as runner-up twice.
The Wallabies also compete annually in The Rugby Championship (previously known as the Tri-Nations), along with Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. They have won this championship on four occasions.
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Known as the Pumas’s, Argentina are a tier one rugby nation. The Argentina Rugby Union was formed in 1899, and while most of it’s top players used to play for European clubs they now nearly all play in the Super Rugby league, namely the Jaguares.
Argentina’s best World Cup finish was 4th place in 2007 and finished 4th in 2015.
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Nicknamed the Eagles, the USA rugby team could be a future tier one rugby nation, the sports is growing rapidly and the USA now has it’s own league – Major League Rugby. The United States won the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship after drawing with Argentina XV. It was their first 15-a-side rugby union title in over 90 years.
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