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Ranking the Greatest Top-10 International Rugby Teams in History

Ranking the Greatest International Rugby Teams in History

In the vast and illustrious history of international rugby, some teams have left an indelible mark, redefining the sport with their exceptional skill and achievements. This list, packed with World Cup winners, presents a challenging task for rugby union enthusiasts to rank.

Here’s our top-10 best international rugby teams of all time. Note that this is personal opinion and may not reflect the true nature of things

10 – Australia’s Surprise Triumph (1984):

With a young squad and a new coach, Alan Jones, the 1984 Wallabies defied expectations during their autumn tour. Making history, they achieved a Home Nations Grand Slam, defeating England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and a formidable Barbarians team. The likes of David Campese, Michael Lynagh, and Tommy Lawton became legends, signaling Australia’s emergence as a rugby force.

9 – Barbarians’ One-Off Brilliance (1973)

The Barbarians’ 1973 team, though controversial due to playing just one match, delivered arguably the greatest ‘one-off’ performance in rugby union history. Led by Carwyn James, the team, featuring some 1971 Lions heroes, orchestrated a memorable 23-11 victory at Cardiff Arms Park, showcasing the magic of the Barbarians tradition.

8 – France’s Dramatic Triumph (1994)

In a remarkable Test series against New Zealand, the 1994 France side secured an unprecedented victory in Auckland with a last-minute try, infamously known as the ‘try from the end of the world.’ This triumph marked New Zealand’s first series sweep defeat in 45 years, solidifying France’s reputation as a resilient and formidable international rugby team.

7 – British & Irish Lions’ Undefeated Tour (1974)

The 1974 British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa remains an unparalleled achievement, playing 22 games in just over two months without a single defeat. Despite controversial refereeing denying them a series whitewash, Willie John McBride’s well-drilled team returned home with heads held high after one of international rugby’s greatest accomplishments.

6 – South Africa’s Emotional Victory (1995)

South Africa’s 1995 World Cup victory not only showcased their rugby prowess but also symbolized unity during a challenging period in the country’s history. Led by Francois Pienaar, the Springboks’ resolute effort in the final against New Zealand became a defining moment in international rugby, resonating with fans worldwide.

5 – New Zealand’s Swaggering Dominance (2015)

The 2015 New Zealand side, playing with unparalleled swagger, defended their World Cup title in style. Under Steve Hansen’s guidance, the All Blacks showcased dominance, culminating in a resounding victory over Australia in the final at Twickenham. Legends like Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma’a Nonu, and Conrad Smith bid farewell with the Webb Ellis Cup in hand.

4 – Wales’ 1970s Golden Era

The 1970s marked a golden era for Welsh rugby, with six Five Nations titles, Grand Slam victories, and a formidable record of nine successive Championship wins between 1970 and 1973. Despite a narrow defeat to New Zealand in 1972, many consider this Welsh team the greatest ever, solidifying their status among rugby’s elite.

3 – England’s Extended Greatness (2002-03)

Beyond their famous 2003 World Cup triumph, Clive Woodward’s England displayed greatness in the autumn of 2002, defeating New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. A subsequent Six Nations Grand Slam set the stage for an unforgettable World Cup final, where Jonny Wilkinson’s iconic drop goal secured England’s place in rugby history.

2 – New Zealand’s Dominant Streak (1987-90)

The greatest All Blacks team of all time, the 1987-90 New Zealand side, displayed unmatched fitness, preparation, and physicality. With a remarkable 23-match unbeaten streak, including dominating the 1987 World Cup, featuring legends like David Kirk, Grant Fox, Michael Jones, and Joe Stanley, they stood as a force without equal.

1 – British & Irish Lions’ Historic Triumph (1971)

The greatest rugby team of all time, the 1971 British & Irish Lions, achieved a feat unmatched to this day – triumphing in New Zealand. Led by stars like JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards, Mervyn Davies, and Barry John, this squad, built around Welsh excellence, secured a sensational series victory, culminating in a 14-14 draw in the final Test match in Auckland.

Yachiga Tavershima
Yachiga Tavershima
Soccer Blogger with a keen eye for detailed reportage. I bring the latest drama in the most dramatic way


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