Rugby World Cup: Country Profiles

Date published: September 4 2015

Get an in-depth look at every one of the sides competing in this year's Rugby World Cup, from Argentina to Wales.

Each profile outlines the team's World Cup record, their latest form, and who are the key players in their side to look out for when it all kicks off on September 18.

You'll find the full list of Rugby World Cup squads here.

Click on the links below to navigate to the full profile for each team.


Argentina's stunning semi-final place in the 2007 Rugby World Cup remains their best finish to date, when a star-studded side at their peak shocked France in the opening match of the tournament and went on to reach the last four, eventually finishing third. Of the seven tournaments they have played in, they have only qualified for the knockout stages three times.

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Australia have been World Cup champions on two occasions, in 1991 and 1999. The fell agonisingly short of becoming the first side to win three World Cup titles when they lost the 2003 final on home soil to England. Their worst performances came in 1995 and 2007, when they lost to England in the quarter-finals.

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Canada have featured in every single Rugby World Cup so far, making the knockout stages on one occasion back in 1991. Otherwise they have always exited the tournament in the pool stages, with only one victory to their name on each occasion apart from in 2007 when they failed to secure a victory. In that 1991 quarter-final they were defeated by New Zealand 29-13 in Lille.

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England’s crowning moment came in 2003 when they won the Rugby World Cup in Australia, defeating the hosts in extra-time thanks to Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal. They have played in two other World Cup finals, losing in 1991 to Australia and in 2007 to South Africa. England have never failed to make it out of the group stage but have lost in the quarter-finals three times – 1987, 1999 and 2011.

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Widely accepted as the best team never to win the tournament, France have made the final on three occasions, in 1987, 1999 and 2011, coming closest to victory four years ago when they went down 8-7 to New Zealand in the final. Only once have they failed to reach the semi-finals, in 1991.

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Famous for their track record in the Sevens form of the game, Fiji have played in six of the seven Rugby World Cups to date, only missing out on the 1995 tournament when they failed to qualify. Their best finish has been reaching the quarter-finals on two occasions, in 1987 and 2007.

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Georgia first appeared in a Rugby World Cup back in 2003, missing out on the first four tournaments between 1987 and 1999, before making their bow in the tournament in Australia. Their first win came in the 2007 tournament over Namibia, a comprehensive 30-0 victory while they came close to shocking Ireland in the same tournament. They followed that up with a 25-9 win over old rivals Romania in 2011.

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Ireland have participated in all seven Rugby World Cups, failing to make the quarter-finals on two occasions – in 1999, when they were knocked out in the play-off by Argentina, and in 2007 when they suffered two defeats in the pool stages. They have never advanced past the quarter-final stage in any tournament to date.

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Italy have participated in every Rugby World Cup going back to the first tournament in 1987. However they have never progressed out of the pool stages, achieving two wins in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Only once have Italy failed to win a match at the World Cup, back in 1999.

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Japan have participated in every Rugby World Cup to date since the tournament began in 1987. However they have only won one match so far in World Cups, back in 1991 in a 52-8 triumph over Zimbabwe. They have however secured two draws, both against Canada, in 2007 and 2011.

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Namibia first qualified for the Rugby World Cup back in 1999, the fourth edition of the tournament, and have been at every Rugby World Cup since then including 2015. However they are yet to win any of their matches, suffering 15 losses from 15 games so far.

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Two-time World Cup champions, New Zealand won the first and most recent tournaments in 1987 and 2011 with both titles coming on home soil. They have come close on many occasions, playing in the 1995 final and losing to South Africa, and will be the favourites to retain their title at the 2015 World Cup given their ranking as the number one side in the world.

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Romania have appeared at all seven Rugby World Cups to date since the tournament began back in 1987, achieving a single victory in five of those editions with 1995 and 2011 being the exceptions. They have defeated Zimbabwe, Fiji, the USA, Namibia and Portugal in the tournament so far in their history.

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After controversially not getting invited to the very first World Cup, Samoa, or Western Samoa as they were known then, were one of the highlights of the 1991 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals with a win over Wales along the way. They beat the Welsh again eight years later, making it out of the group stages in each of their first three participations in the tournament. They haven't done so again but performed admirably in the group stages in 2003 and 2011.

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One of the most consistent teams in World Cup history, Scotland had reached the knockout stages of every World Cup until 2011 when they went out in the pool stages. Their best result was fourth place in 1991 but that will remain a bittersweet memory, with Gavin Hastings missing a simple penalty against England in the semi-final with his side losing 9-6. Other than that it's been quarter-finals throughout with a close loss to Argentina in 2007, the nearest they've come to getting back to the last four.

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After missing the first two World Cups during their Apartheid-era isolation, South Africa won on home soil in 1995 for arguably the most famous World Cup win of all, with Nelson Mandela on hand to present the trophy. Four years later, they reached the semi-finals before losing to a Tim Horan-inspired Australia, before quarter-final defeats either side of their second title, in 2007 when they beat England in the final in Paris.

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It's only really in the last two tournaments that Tonga have made any impact at the Rugby World Cup, with their crowning achievement undoubtedly coming four years ago. After playing in the opening game of the tournament against New Zealand, Tonga rounded off the pool phase with a shock win over France. It wasn't enough to get to the knockout stages, but for the second tournament running, Tonga managed two wins, having managed only two in total in their first four participations.

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Uruguay have qualified just twice for the Rugby World Cup, but have won a game on both occasions. Their first appearance in the tournament in 1999 saw them beat Spain in their opening game before losses to Scotland and South Africa. Four years on they were thumped by the Springboks, Samoa and England, but did manage a win over Georgia.

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USA have only missed one World Cup, failing to qualify in 1995, but their record in the event itself is poor, with just three wins from six editions, and having never made it to the knockout stages. Their only wins have come against Japan, twice, and Russia, but they have come close to beating both Fiji and Samoa at the 2003 and 2007 tournaments respectively.

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Wales reached the semi-finals for the second time in their history in 2011, going agonisingly close to beating France, 24 years after they had been knocked out in the last four by New Zealand. In between there have been some low moments, losses to Western Samoa in 1991 and 1999 and a pool defeat to Fiji in 2007, standing out.

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