The Most Successful Nations at the Rugby World Cup

Graph of Most successful nations at the Rugby World Cup over time

Is New Zealand, Australia, or South Africa the most successful nation at the Rugby World Cup? A rubric was developed to determine which team has been the most historically successful. The points rubric awards progressively more points the further a national team went in the playoffs. New Zealand ended up coming out on top, despite South Africa winning the last Word Cup.


16 pts – World Cup winner
8 pts – Reached Final
4 pts – Reached Semi-Final
2 pts – Reached Quarter-Final


1. New Zealand – 74 pts.

New Zealand is the most successful nation in Rugby World Cup history, having won the tournament three times. The All Blacks, as they are known, won the inaugural tournament in 1987 and then went on to win again in 2011 and 2015. They have also finished in third place three times, in 1991, 2003, and 2019. Rugby union is considered to be New Zealand’s national sport. It has a large number of talented players and a history of innovative and exciting play.

2. Australia – 62 pts.

The Wallabies have won the Rugby World Cup twice, in 1991 and 1999, and have been runners-up twice, in 2003 and 2015. The Australian team is known for its attacking style of rugby and are always a tough team to beat. Despite not having won the tournament in recent years, they remain one of the top teams in the world.

3. South Africa – 60 pts.

South Africa has won the Rugby World Cup three times, in 1995, 2007, and 2019. They have also finished in third place twice. The Springboks, as they are known, are known for their physical style of rugby and have produced some of the greatest players in the sport. The team would likely have been higher on this list, had South Africa not be banned in the first two tournaments due to its government’s policy of apartheid.

4. England – 50 pts.

Rugby was invented in England. Its team won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, famously defeating Australia in the final. They have also finished in second place in 1991 and 2019. The team tends to have a conservative, pragmatic style of play that prioritizes discipline and set-piece dominance. It has a large player pool, but has struggled in recent years with consistency and tactical flexibility.

5. France – 42 pts.

France is the most successful rugby team from a country where one of the official languages is not English. Although France has never won the Rugby World Cup, they have finished in second place three times, in 1987, 1999, and 2011. They have also finished in third place once. The French are known for their flair and creativity on the pitch and have produced some of the most exciting players in the sport.

Graph of Most successful nations at the Rugby World Cup


National Team198719911995199920032007201120152019All Time Total
New Zealand16202832363854707474
South Africa001620223840446060

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