International rugby is the pinnacle of rugby union. After all, almost every single one of the sport’s biggest tournaments takes place on the international stage. The southern hemisphere hosts The Rugby Championship, the northern hemisphere hosts the Six Nations Championship and everyone comes face-to-face every four years when the Rugby World Cup is contested.
Organised international rugby began in 1886 when Scotland, Wales and Ireland joined the International Rugby Football Board (now World Rugby). In 1890, England officially joined and the International Rugby Football Board wrote the first international laws of rugby union.
Fast forward to 1948 and Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all officially joined (although these teams had been playing international rugby prior to this). In the coming years, more and more teams from all over the world joined the International Rugby Football Board. As a result, by the 1980s, many of the countries began to seriously consider starting a world championship. By 1987, the dream had come to reality and Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the first ever Rugby World Cup, which New Zealand won. Today, the tournament remains the highlight of the international rugby calendar.
In 2003, an international rugby rankings system was introduced. Since then, when international rugby teams have played against each other, they’ve competed for ranking points.
When the system was first launched, England topped the international rankings after the team won the 2003 edition of the Rugby World Cup. However, since, New Zealand have dominated the international rugby rankings. Between 2009 and 2019, they held the number one spot in the international rugby rankings uninterrupted. But, since they were toppled in 2019, several teams have held the top spot.
Rugby union is now a truly global game. As of 2020, World Rugby has 102 member unions and a further 18 nations hold associate member status. As a result, all across the world, international rugby teams now often play against each other for bragging rights, trophies and world ranking points. No matter what month of the year it may be, you’re sure to find some international rugby fixtures you can watch on the TV somewhere in the world.
Read on to discover all the latest news, view the upcoming international rugby fixtures and see the latest international rugby results.