Rugby has grown in popularity over the years and has a number of professional and international competitions and matches that offer great spectator and supporter value. An example is the Rugby World Cup, which was won by South Africa in 2007, which makes them the current world champions.
There are approximately 17 countries that play rugby as a major national sport, but newer entrants are slowly surfacing. The most prominent countries in rugby include England, South Africa, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia and New Zealand, with numerous developing countries in hot pursuit.
One could view rugby as being split into a Northern and Southern hemisphere style, which differs quite vastly in tactics employed and strategies utilised within the game. The major competitions on an international level in the Southern Hemisphere include the Tri Nations, which is a round robin tournament between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The most recent winners or Tri Nation champions are New Zealand.
The most noted Northern Hemisphere competition is that of the Six Nations, which is between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Each team plays each other team once, and this tournament has its roots as far back as 1871. The current champions of the Six Nations title are Wales.
There are numerous national championships and regional championships which effectively keep the rugby participants busy the whole year round. A very well known and tough competition in the southern hemisphere is the Super 14, which consists of 14 teams battling it out to secure this very coveted title. The Crusaders from New Zealand are the current title holders. The Heineken Cup can be considered as the northern hemisphere equivalent of the Super 14, although it contains more teams, a total of 24 teams compete for this title, with the current champions being Munster, a team from Ireland.
In order to play in these regional type competitions, a team normally has to qualify in the preceding season within their local leagues and games, making it a tough challenge already on the local level. The teams that do progress are seen as the best of the best.