The Rugby World Cup returns to France in what is shaping up to be the biggest and most tantalising tournament in history.


Expectations are high for France, who have ridden a wave of momentum and good form over the past few years - all with the goal of sealing World Cup glory at home.

The French have reached the final three times, most recently doing so in 2011 - where they lost an excruciatingly narrow game to New Zealand in Auckland.

They’re the only side to reach a final and not win the trophy. They’ll hope that with home advantage on their side, they can finally make that last step and etch their name into rugby history.

England, having won the tournament in 2003, have actually reached the final four times, including 2003. They first did so in 1991, and most recently in the last World Cup in Japan in 2019.

England and France are the only northern hemisphere teams to have made it to the final, with both Wales and Scotland having reached the semi-finals before.

Ireland, who are one of the four favourites to win alongside France, New Zealand and South Africa, have actually never made it past the quarter-finals stage, leading many to brand them 'cursed' – but who has gone all the way in the past? brings you the complete guide to which teams boast the most Rugby World Cup titles in history.

Read more RWC guides and explainers: Rugby World Cup TV coverage | Rugby World Cup fixtures | Rugby World Cup radio coverage | Rugby World Cup presenters and commentators | Bonus points explained

Who has won the most Rugby World Cup titles?

Historically, the southern hemisphere trio of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have had a stranglehold on World Cup success.

Aside from England’s triumph in Australia in 2003, they’re the only three teams to win the Webb Ellis trophy.

New Zealand and South Africa both have three World Cup titles.

The All Blacks won in 1987, and consecutive titles in 2011 and 2015. The Springboks won their first in front of an emotional home crowd in 1995, then in 2007 in France, and lastly in 2019 in Japan.

Australia have won the tournament twice, in 1991 and 1999, while England’s single victory in 2003 makes them the only northern hemisphere team to have won.

The All Blacks are also the only team to successfully defend the Webb Ellis Cup when they won back-to-back titles in the 2010s.

  1. New Zealand/South Africa – three titles
  2. Australia – two titles
  3. England – one title

Who won the last Rugby World Cup?

The Springboks are the reigning World Champions, having beaten England in Yokohama four years ago by 32-12.

Twelve years before that, in the last global showdown across the Channel, they beat England in the Stade de France to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Their first title famously came in 1995 in South Africa. Set against the backdrop of the recent end of apartheid and new democratic government, Nelson Mandela used rugby as a symbol to unite a country that was bitterly divided.

List of Rugby World Cup winners

  • 1987 – New Zealand 29-9 France
  • 1991 – Australia 12-6 England
  • 1995 – South Africa 15-12 New Zealand (aet)
  • 1999 – Australia 35-12 France
  • 2003 – England 20-17 Australia (aet)
  • 2007 – South Africa 15-6 England
  • 2011 – New Zealand 8-7 France
  • 2015 – New Zealand 34-17 Australia
  • 2019 – South Africa 32-12 England

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