What Countries Play Rugby Union? (Over 100!)

Over one hundred countries play rugby and are members of World Rugby, the governing body of the sport of rugby union.

This article breaks down the extensive list by continent: Europe, Oceania, the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

World Rugby divides countries into a top tier and several lower tiers. Each of the continents has an international tournament with several divisions that pits countries of similar level against each other.

What European Countries Play Rugby?

These are the 38 European countries that play rugby and are members of World Rugby, the governing body for rugby union.

The countries are listed in alphabetical order across the three columns.

A-GH-NP-W
AndorraHungaryPoland
AustriaIrelandPortugal
BelgiumIsraelRomania
Bosnia & HerzegovinaItalyRussia
BulgariaLatviaScotland
CroatiaLithuaniaSerbia
CzechiaLuxembourgSlovenia
DenmarkMaltaSpain
EnglandMoldovaSweden
FinlandMonacoSwitzerland
FranceNetherlandsUkraine
GeorgiaNorwayWales
Germany
Greece

The countries are divided into three tiers, which try to match them on a similar level of competitive ability.

What countries play in the Six Nations rugby championship?

The highest tier includes the countries that make up the Six Nations Championship:

  • England
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Scotland
  • Wales

What countries play in the second tier of European rugby?

The European countries outside the Six Nations are eligible to play in the Rugby Europe International Championships.

The 38 countries I listed don’t all play every year in these Championships. There are several levels within the Championships with promotion and relegation on an annual basis.

The top level of the second tier currently includes these countries:

  • Belgium
  • Georgia
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Spain

What Countries Play Rugby In Oceania?

The most famous rugby-playing countries in Oceania are Australia and New Zealand.

They play at the top level of international competition in a combined tournament that includes South Africa and Argentina (and sometimes Japan).

Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga are also well known for playing rugby. But these aren’t the only countries in Oceania that play Rugby Union. Here is the full list:

A-GH-OT-Z
American SamoaNew ZealandTahiti
AustraliaNiue IslandTonga
Cook IslandsPapua New GuineaVanuatu
FijiSamoa
GuamSolomon Islands

What Countries Play Rugby Union In The Americas?

Argentina is the most successful rugby-playing country in the Americas. They routinely participate in World Cups and finished third in 2007.

Argentina also participates in an annual tournament with Oceania rugby giants Australia and New Zealand.

Both Canada and USA have a long tradition of playing rugby. One or both usually participate in the Rugby Union World Cup.

Several other countries play in international competitions in the Americas. The format and make-up of the tournaments change quite often. Sometimes there’s an “America North” and “America South” competition.

Here is the full list of countries in the Americas that are affiliated with World Rugby.

A-BC-ST-Z
ArgentinaCanadaMexico
BahamasCayman IslandsParaguay
BarbadosChilePeru
BermudaColombiaSt Vincent & Grenadines
BrazilCosta RicaUnited States Of America
GuyanaUruguay
JamaicaVenezuela

What Asian Countries Play Rugby Union?

Japan is the most high-profile country in Asia that plays rugby. They hosted the 2019 World Cup and have had big wins against Tier One countries like South Africa and Ireland.

The Asia Rugby Championship has several divisions. These are the countries in Asia that play rugby:

A-IJ-PS-Z
ChinaKazakhstanSingapore
TaiwanKoreaSri Lanka
Hong KongLaosThailand
IndiaMalaysiaUnited Arab Emirates
IndonesiaPakistanUzbekistan
IranPhilippines
Japan

What Countries In Africa Play Rugby?

South Africa is the most high-profile country in Africa that plays rugby. They have won three Rugby World Cups, including the first in 1995.

South Africa plays in an annual tournament with Australia and New Zealand.

The Africa Cup is a tournament for the other countries on the continent that play Rugby Union. Namibia has been the strongest country in recent times by winning the tournament since 2014.

A-JK-RS-Z
AlgeriaKenyaSenegal
BotswanaMadagascarSouth Africa
Burkina FasoMauritiusSwaziland
BurundiMoroccoTrinidad & Tobago
CameroonNamibiaTunisia
Cote D’ivoireNigeriaUganda
GhanaRwandaZambia
Zimbabwe

What About Sevens Rugby?

Some countries put more emphasis on the seven-player version of rugby.

Check out our article on the countries that play rugby sevens.