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Rugby, enjoyed by millions worldwide, offers a thrilling mix of power, speed, and strategy.

Numerous prestigious tournaments showcase the finest talent in the sport, both on a national and club level.

Here is an overview of the most important rugby tournaments.

Most Important Rugby Tournaments:

  1. Six Nations Championship
  2. The Rugby Championship
  3. British and Irish Lions Tour
  4. European Rugby Champions Cup
  5. Super Rugby
  6. Aviva Premiership
  7. Pro14
  8. Top 14
  9. Currie Cup
  10. Mitre 10 Cup
  11. European Rugby Challenge Cup
  12. Rugby Sevens World Cup
  13. World Rugby U20 Championship
  14. Women’s Rugby World Cup
  15. National Rugby Championship
  16. Bledisloe Cup
  17. Heineken Cup
  18. Asian Rugby Championship
  19. Women’s Six Nations Championship
  20. Major League Rugby (United States)

#1 Six Nations Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 1883
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 6 national teams

The Six Nations Championship, the premier rugby union competition in the Northern Hemisphere, features England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.

Historically, it began as the Home Nations and later expanded to include France and Italy. England currently holds the record for most outright wins, while rivalries between nations intensify each edition.

#2 The Rugby Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Southern Hemisphere
  • πŸ“… Established: 1996
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 4 national teams

The Rugby Championship, formerly known as the Tri-Nations, comprises Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Governed by SANZAAR, this elite competition showcases Southern Hemisphere rugby at its best. New Zealand holds the most titles, with the All Blacks’ dominance making it an intense and highly contested tournament.

#3 British and Irish Lions Tour

  • πŸ“ Location: Rotates between Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa
  • πŸ“… Established: 1888
  • πŸ”„ Held: Every 4 years

The British and Irish Lions Tour is a unique rugby event featuring a combined team of players from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

They tour one of the Southern Hemisphere’s big three (Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa) every four years. Each tour consists of several warm-up matches leading to a Test series against the host nation, providing the ultimate challenge for players and spectators alike.

#4 European Rugby Champions Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 2014 (previously Heineken Cup, 1995)
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 24 club teams

The European Rugby Champions Cup, the premier club competition in European rugby, replaced the Heineken Cup in 2014.

Top-tier clubs from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales compete for the title, with French side Toulouse and Irish side Leinster sharing the most championships. The tournament boasts fierce competition and elite-level rugby.

#5 Super Rugby

  • πŸ“ Location: Southern Hemisphere & Japan
  • πŸ“… Established: 1996
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 club teams

Super Rugby, also governed by SANZAAR, is an elite club competition featuring teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Originally, the league had 12 teams, but it expanded and contracted over time, and from 2022, it will feature 12 teams again. New Zealand’s Crusaders hold the most titles, showcasing the best talent in the Southern Hemisphere.

#6 Aviva Premiership

  • πŸ“ Location: England
  • πŸ“… Established: 1987
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 club teams

The Aviva Premiership, known as the English Premiership, is England’s top rugby union league, featuring 12 clubs and enjoys a rich history and intense rivalries.

Leicester Tigers have won the most titles, while the competition adds to England’s rugby union landscape hugely and encourages growth in talent and fan engagement.

#7 Pro14

  • πŸ“ Location: Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales
  • πŸ“… Established: 2001
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 club teams

The Pro14, initially known as the Celtic League, is a unique club competition encompassing teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales.

Its evolution through expansions and name changes showcases its adaptation to the global rugby landscape. Irish side Leinster leads with the most titles, and the competition nurtures the growth of players from the respective nations.

#8 Top 14

  • πŸ“ Location: France
  • πŸ“…Established: 1892
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 14 club teams

The Top 14 is France’s premier rugby union league, featuring 14 clubs and known for its physicality and skill.

Stade Toulousain holds the record for most championships, while the competition plays a crucial role in developing French rugby talent. Top 14 clubs have often been successful in European competitions, showcasing their strength on the international stage.

#9 Currie Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: South Africa
  • πŸ“… Established: 1891
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 14 club teams

South Africa’s Currie Cup, one of the oldest rugby competitions globally, has been pivotal in fostering the nation’s rugby success.

The tournament, named after Sir Donald Currie, features domestic teams competing fiercely to achieve the prestigious title. The Blue Bulls and Western Province share the record for the most championships, reflecting South Africa’s rich rugby tradition.

#10 Mitre 10 Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: New Zealand
  • πŸ“… Established: 2006
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 14 club teams

New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup, formerly known as the National Provincial Championship (NPC), is a professional rugby competition featuring clubs from across the nation.

The competition plays a crucial role in nurturing the abundance of talent that makes the All Blacks a dominant force. Historically, the Auckland team has been most successful, highlighting the strength of Kiwi rugby.

#11 European Rugby Challenge Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 1996
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 18 club teams

The European Rugby Challenge Cup is Europe’s second-tier club rugby competition, featuring teams from across the continent.

It allows clubs to compete against other countries’ professional sides, creating a platform for growth and exposing players to international competition. English club Harlequins and French side ASM Clermont Auvergne share the record for the most titles won.

#12 Rugby Sevens World Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Varies globally
  • πŸ“… Established: 1993
  • πŸ”„ Held: Every 4 years
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 24 national teams (men), 16 national teams (women)

The Rugby Sevens World Cup is an international showcase for the shorter, faster version of rugby union.

Both men’s and women’s teams compete, with New Zealand dominating in both categories. This tournament has gained popularity in recent years, highlighting the growth and excitement of the sevens format globally.

#13 World Rugby U20 Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Varies globally
  • πŸ“… Established: 2008
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 national teams

The World Rugby U20 Championship is an annual international tournament for under-20 rugby talent, featuring 12 teams from around the globe.

The competition has been a breeding ground for future rugby stars, giving young players an essential platform for growth and development. New Zealand and England have been dominant in the tournament, foreshadowing future national success.

#14 Women’s Rugby World Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Varies globally
  • πŸ“… Established: 1991
  • πŸ”„ Held: Every 4 years
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 national teams

The Women’s Rugby World Cup is the premier international competition for women’s rugby union, showcasing talent from across the globe.

Promoting the growth of women’s rugby and empowering females, this tournament has increased in popularity and competitiveness. New Zealand’s Black Ferns have the record number of titles, highlighting their success and the growth of women’s rugby.

#15 National Rugby Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Australia
  • πŸ“… Established: 2014
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 8 club teams

The National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Australia is a competition that develops domestic talent and strengthens the connection between grassroots and elite rugby.

Featuring eight teams from across the country, the NRC has evolved through various formats since its inception. The competition has produced notable players who have made their mark on the international stage.

#16 Bledisloe Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Australia and New Zealand
  • πŸ“… Established: 1931
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually

The Bledisloe Cup, a fierce rivalry between the Australian Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks, involves a series of tests held annually.

This esteemed rugby competition began in 1931, named after Lord Bledisloe, then the Governor-General of New Zealand. Despite Australia’s occasional victories, the All Blacks have maintained a dominant grip on the Cup.

#17 Heineken Cup

  • πŸ“ Location: Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 1995
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 24 club teams

The Heineken Cup was Europe’s premier club rugby competition before being replaced by the European Rugby Champions Cup in 2014.

Featuring top-tier clubs from across the continent, the Heineken Cup was renowned for its intensity and elite-level rugby. French club Toulouse and Irish side Leinster led the championship title count.

#18 Asian Rugby Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Asia
  • πŸ“… Established: 1969
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: Varies (Top Division: 3 national teams)

The Asian Rugby Championship is an international competition involving various nations from across Asia. Serving as a World Cup qualifier and expanding rugby’s global reach, its format has evolved over time, now featuring several divisions.

Japan has been the dominant nation, significantly shaping the Asian rugby landscape and fostering talent throughout the continent.

#19 Women’s Six Nations Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 1996
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 6 national teams

The Women’s Six Nations Championship mirrors the men’s tournament, with England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales competing each year.

The competition has grown significantly in prominence and skill level since its inception, promoting the growth of women’s rugby and showcasing the talent of female rugby players across Europe. England and France lead the championship victories.

#20 Major League Rugby (United States)

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2018
  • πŸ”„ Held: Annually
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: 12 club teams

Major League Rugby (MLR) is a relatively new professional rugby competition in the United States, featuring 12 clubs from across the nation.

Launched in 2018, MLR aims to foster the growth of rugby union in America, attract international talent, and provide a competitive platform for American rugby players. The league is still developing, with significant potential for expansion and impact on the global rugby scene.

FAQ

What is the most important rugby tournament?

The Rugby World Cup is the most prestigious rugby tournament, attracting the world’s top national teams competing for the top spot.

What is the oldest rugby tournament?

The Six Nations Championship, established in 1883, is considered the oldest rugby tournament.

What is the hardest rugby tournament to win?

The Rugby World Cup is the toughest rugby tournament to win due to its high level of global competition and the skill and strength of teams involved.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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