Ranking the top rugby teams in the world can be a difficult proposition because of the various competitions each team plays in. For example, on the international stage, nations in Europe play in the Six Nations competitions and the World Cup. At club level, the European Championship is seen as the guide for the top teams on the continent while New Zealand’s Hurricanes and Crusaders are usually seen as the top teams in the world. This list will limit itself to the top five nations in the world.
1. New Zealand All Blacks
The New Zealand All Blacks have topped the world rankings from World Rugby throughout much of the last decade. The team is famous for completing the Kaka, the Maori challenge for opponents before each game. New Zealand won the first ever World Cup in 1987 and won both the 2011 and 2015 editions of the tournament with a long history of winning against every team playing test rugby. The team has a 77 percent record in test matches with their only losses since 1903 coming against six of the 19 teams currently at test match level.
The Irish reached their highest-ever international position in the world rankings of second in 2019, although The Guardian ranked the Irish the top team in world rugby in its 2018 power rankings. The history of the Irish rugby team dates back to 1875 when they played their first game against England. The team has won 14 Six Nations titles and shared the trophy nine times but have failed to go beyond the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
The Wales rugby union team has recently gone through one of its most successful periods under coach Warren Gatland before he left the position in 2019. After finishing third in the 1987 World Cup, Wales has been ranked in the top five rugby teams throughout the 21st-century. Among the iconic players from Wales are Jonathan Davies and J.P.R. Williams who have worn the iconic red jersey.
The home of rugby, England has been through many successful and unsuccessful periods including winning the 2003 World Cup. The team is the only nation from the Northern Hemisphere to win the World Cup completing their victory under head coach Sir Clive Woodward. Playing in their iconic white jerseys, the team plays its home games at the home of rugby, Twickenham Stadium.
5. South Africa
The Springboks have been playing international rugby since 1891 but missed much of the latter half of the 20th-century ostracized from the international sport because of the Apartheid regime. Although the nation was integral in creating the World Cup, South Africa did not appear at the event until 1995 when they hosted the competition and won the Webb Ellis Cup.
The world of rugby is constantly changing with teams falling in and out of the top five on the planet all the time. At one point in early 2018, England was ranked closely to New Zealand but have fallen way over the course of the last year. Other teams knocking on the door of the top five include Australia, France, Scotland, and Fiji.