William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School in England in 1823 is arguably the inventor of rugby when, while playing soccer, he broke the rules of the game and picked the ball by his hands. This act of defiance grew and the sport thereafter developed in the UK and spread worldwide. For the maiden tournament, Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted The Rugby World Cup in 1987. Since then, more teams have joined the global tournament and the governing body came up with a ranking system based on the team’s performance in the tournament every four years. In the ranking system, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, France, Wales, Argentina, and Scotland dominate the top positions.
Top Three Successful Teams
New Zealand rugby team, also known as “All Blacks” has won the coveted trophy the most number of times. They won the trophy in 1987, 2011, and 2015, became runners-up in 1995 and second runners-up in 1991 and 2003. These statistics make the team the highest-ranking rugby team in the world. In 1870, Charles Monro introduced the game to New Zealand after which it gained momentum after the formation of Canterbury Rugby Football Union in 1879. The All Blacks made their international debut in 1903 being part of an Australian side where they won. Since then, the team has participated in numerous competitions, including the last eight Rugby World Cup tournaments. The All Blacks are known for performing the haka, a traditional ancestral Māori war dance, before their international matches.
Established in the nineteenth century, the Australian National Rugby team, the “Wallabies,” is the second most successful rugby team in the world. The team’s first international assignment was against the British Isle team in 1899 where Australia won. Since then, Australia has made appearances in all the World Rugby Cup tournaments winning twice. The first win for Australia in the World Cup was in 1991 where they beat England followed by another win in 1999 defeating France. In 2003 and 2015, the team finished second and in 2011, they finished third overall. Australia’s biggest win and defeat so far have been against African sides; the team defeated Namibia 140 points to nothing in 2003 and lost to South Africa 53 points against eight in 2008.
South Africa national rugby team, also known as “Springboks” sprouted after the first British Isle tour to South Africa in 1891, followed by South Africa’s first tour of Britain and France in 1906 where they got the Springboks nickname. The team remained competitive thereafter, winning most of their matches. South Africa missed the inaugural World Cup tournament in 1987 and the 1991 tournament after the International Rugby Board suspended them owing to the infamous Apartheid regime. Springboks sprung back with vigor after their reinstatement by winning the 1995 and 2007 World Cups. The Springboks finished third in 1999 and 2015 World Cup tournaments.
Records and Statistics
The leading scorer in the World Cup tournament is Jonny Wilkinson of England with 277 points. Grant Fox of New Zealand leads the score sheet of most points in a single tournament with 126, while Simon Culhane recorded most points (45) in a match by a single player and also most conversions (20) in a match. English player Jason Leonard has played the most World Cup matches in history, 22 in total. Marc Ellis and Jonah Lomu of the All Blacks hold records of the most tries in a match and a tournament respectively. Lomu shares the record with South African Bryan Habana. The dual also share records for the total World Cup tournament tries, both scored 15.