Four countries have won the Rugby World Cup since it began. New Zealand won the inaugural cup in 1987 and won again in 2011 and 2015.
South Africa won in 1995, 2007, and 2019. Australia won in 1991 and 1999, while England have one once in 2003.
This table lays out the timeline of world cup wins for each country.
Which country has won the Rugby World Cup the most?
Two countries have won the Rugby World Cup more than any other. New Zealand and South Africa have each won the tournament three times.
Australia is the next most successful country, having won the tournament twice.
England lifted the cup once and is one of only four countries to be crowned World Champions.
Which Countries Have Never Won The Rugby World Cup?
Seven of the top-tier countries in Rugby Union have never won the Rugby World Cup. These are Argentina, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Scotland, and Wales.
Some countries have come closer than others. France is the closest, having lost three finals.
Of course, far more countries than these have international teams. We have the comprehensive list in our article on which countries play rugby.
This table shows the furthest progression that each of these top tier teams has reached:
|Country||Highest Position Reached|
|Argentina||3rd place in 2007 (beaten in semi-finals)|
|France||finals in 1987, 1999, and 2011|
|Ireland||quarter-finals in 1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015, 2019|
|Italy||have not got out of the pool stage|
|Japan||quarter-finals in 2019|
|Scotland||4th place in 1991 (beaten in semi-finals)|
|Wales||3rd place in 1987 (beaten in semi-finals)|
3rd place play-off
You’ll notice that some teams reached 3rd or 4th place. This means that they were beaten in a semi-final and went into a play-off match.
The play-off match is against the other losing semi-finalist and determines which team places 3rd or 4th.
Has Ireland Won The Rugby World Cup?
Ireland has never won the Rugby World Cup. They have participated in every tournament since 1987.
Their best results have been beaten quarter-finalists in 1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015, and 2019.
Ireland did not progress past the pool stages in 1999 and 2007.
Our commentary on Ireland’s worst results at the World Cup
The Ireland rugby hierarchy was more reluctant than some other Unions to join the move into professional rugby in 1995. Their international results started lagging behind their peers.
So, it wasn’t much of a surprise for supporters when they had a poor tournament in 1999 and failed to get out of the pool stages.
The failure in 2007 to get out of the group was a disappointment to supporters. France and Argentina were the other strong teams in the pool, but Ireland would have hoped to come second and reach the quarter-finals.
But Argentina had their best World Cup outing that year and beat Ireland into third place in the group. The Pumas went all the way to the semi-finals.
Ireland has reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup seven times and has been beaten each time.
This has become a psychological hoodoo for the supporters, if not the players themselves.
Ireland has had some very strong years in the last decade. They won the Six Nations in 2014, 2015, and 2018. The 2018 year saw them take the Grand Slam (winning every match).
They also beat New Zealand three times in recent years. That is no small feat as we show in our article on which countries have beaten the All Blacks.
We consider Ireland to be underperforming at World Cups. This is particularly compared to their Triple Crown rivals of Scotland and Wales, who have performed better at World Cups.
Has Wales Won The Rugby World Cup?
Wales has never won the Rugby World Cup. They have participated in every tournament since 1987.
They did not progress past the pool stages in 1991, 1995, and 2007.
The Welsh team were beaten semi-finalists in 1987, 2011, and 2019. They won the third-place play-off in the inaugural tournament in 1987.
They lost their next two play-offs, placing fourth in those years.
Our commentary on Welsh results at the World Cup
It always seems to be extremes for the Principality! Welsh supporters always expect that their team gets out of the pool stages in a World Cup. This makes the three failures very disappointing.
In contrast, they have reached the semi-finals three times. That is significantly better than their traditional Celtic rivals, Scotland and Wales.
They were beaten in the 2011 semi-final by a single point, going down 8-9 to France. That’s one penalty away from a final.
Has France Won The Rugby World Cup?
France has never won the Rugby World Cup. Their best results were to reach the finals twice.
France was beaten in the final by New Zealand in the inaugural cup in 1985. They lost again to the All Blacks in 2011.
France has never failed to get out of the pools. Their worst results were to lose at the quarter-final stage in 1991, 2015, and 2019.
Our commentary on French results at the World Cup
In some ways, France has been very successful at the World Cup by getting to two finals.
New Zealand has been their nemesis thus far. This can become a psychological hurdle.
The next World Cup will be held in France. They will be considered one of the favorites to take the crown.
Did England Win The Rugby World Cup?
England has won the Rugby World Cup once. They beat Australia in the final of 2003.
England has reached four finals in total, losing three. They lost the finals of 1991, 2007, and 2019.
England’s worst result was to fail to get out of the pool stages in 2015.
Our commentary on English results at the World Cup
By reaching four finals, England has been very successful at the World Cup. They have a better record than any other European country.
English supporters were bitterly disappointed in 2015. The tournament was held in England and there was considerable expectation from supporters.
Everybody assumed they would get out of the pools in their home tournament. It was a shock in the rugby world when they failed.
There was a reverse situation four years later in 2019. England had some poor results in the run-up to that tournament. To their own supporters’ surprise, they sailed into the final.
England hammered Australia in the quarter-finals in 2019 and gave the All Blacks a strong beating in the semi-finals. However, they more than met their match in the final and lost to South Africa.
Did South Africa Win The Rugby World Cup?
South Africa has won the Rugby World Cup three times. They became champions in 1995, 2007, and 2019.
The Springboks were excluded from the first two tournaments in 1987 and 1991.
South Africa has got out of the pool stages of every tournament they played in. Their worst results were to be beaten in quarter-finals in 2003 and 2011.