Top 5 nations still to win a World Cup

Date published: September 15 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Thierry_Dusautoir_Rugby_World_Cup_2011

Only four countries have won the Rugby World Cup in the competition's history, but will this year see a new name being engraved on the William Webb Ellis Cup?

Of the previous seven tournaments, six have been won by the Southern Hemisphere's 'Big Three' of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia with two apiece. England are the only other side to have held the trophy.

But in the eighth edition this year, those elite nations will face stiff opposition from several teams desperate to claim rugby's greatest prize for the first time.
 
Here are the top five nations in world rugby who have yet to lift the Rugby World Cup…
 
5. Argentina
Since their debut at the 1987 Rugby World Cup, los Pumas have emerged as the most improved side in world rugby. The defeat of Ireland in a playoff to make the quarter-final in 1999 marked the start of a golden age for the national team. After going down to hosts Australia and narrowly to Ireland at the pool stage in 2003, Argentina produced their best performance in 2007 to finish third; beating hosts France twice and Ireland along the way. Although they reached the quarters in 2011, they will probably have to wait before another opportunity like 2007 comes knocking again.
 
4. Scotland
While recent Rugby World Cups have seen the rise of Argentina as a major rugby power, the competition has also overseen the demise of Scotland. Prior to the millennium, the Scots entered the tournament as the Northern Hemisphere's top picks along with England and France. They just lost out on a spot in the 1991 final to England before finishing fourth and were regulars in the last eight until 2011, when they went out at the group stage. These days, Scotland's standing in world rugby has waned and they will see getting out of their pool this year as the primary goal.
 
3. Ireland
If ever a major rugby nation is said to have underachieved at Rugby World Cups, then that country is Ireland. Despite making huge strides in the professional era to become regular Six Nations title contenders and boasting a 'golden generation' of talent like Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish have often failed to deliver on rugby's grandest stage. To date, Ireland's best finish is the quarter-finals. They came closest to making a semi-final in 1991 when they almost shocked winners Australia. This year, many feel it is their best chance as back-to-back Six Nations champions.
 
2. Wales
Had the first Rugby World Cup taken place in the 1970s – during the 'Golden Era' of Wales' greatest team with stars like JPR Williams, then the Welsh could have been world champions already. However, the inaugural tournament in 1987 came just too late as Wales finished third. They would have to wait 24 years before reaching another semi-final, but were unlucky not to have made the 2011 final. On their day, they are capable of producing the best rugby and will need it to get through a tough pool with hosts England and Australia before thinking of a final.
 
1. France
The most dangerous and unpredictable team to grace the Rugby World Cup, les Bleus rightfully claim the title of 'dark horses'. They can also be considered the most unfortunate side in the competition having come runners-up in 1987, 1999 and 2011. The French have been involved in some memorable moments, like the semi-finals against Australia in 1987 and New Zealand in 1999. However, with the exception of 2011, France often produce their best form in making the final rather than in the final itself. One senses though that their day is not far away. Write them off at your peril.

By Aron Hegarty

COMMENTS