3 More Than Decent Rugby Teams You Probably Never Heard About

3 More Than Decent Rugby Teams You Probably Never Heard […]

3 More Than Decent Rugby Teams You Probably Never Heard About

Rugby, in all its forms, is a very popular sport in many countries – and not so much in others. Many people outside the US have, for example, heard of many major American football teams but don’t know that the US has its own national rugby team that participated in the recent Rugby World Cup. And there are many other countries where either form of rugby is played at a semi-professional or professional level, with teams that don’t get the publicity and love they deserve. Let’s take a look at some of them below.

Romania

Romania was a big name in association football and athletics in the past and has quite a few well-known tennis players today – but when it comes to rugby, it’s not among the biggest powers. It’s a pity, though, because Romania’s national rugby union team – the Oaks (Stejarii), as they are called colloquially – did a pretty decent job in the European Nations Cup (Rugby Union) in the 2000s. So good, in fact, that most new recommended bookmakers in the country keeps listing their odds – which is a big thing for a team that’s virtually unknown for the locals.

The Oaks won the 2017 European Nations Cup and came third at this year’s edition after Georgia and Spain. The team also won four World Rugby Nations Cup trophies (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016). Unfortunately, it was expelled from the 2019 World Cup, hosted by Japan, as a result of a scandal

Japan

When it comes to rugby, we all know the “great powers” – New Zealand’s All Blacks, who scare the soul out of their opponents with their traditional haka, South Africa’s Springboks, currently the team with the most points in the World Rugby Rankings, and England… where it all began. But much fewer people know of Japan, which is among the top 10 ranked rugby union teams in the world.

The nickname of the team is surprisingly benign – they are called the Cherry Blossoms or Sakura, more recently the Brave Blossoms – but don’t let it fool you. At this year’s Rugby World Cup, Japan (qualified as the hosts of the event) made it to the quarter-finals, won the Pacific Nations Cup, and won the Asia Rugby Championship for 12 years in a row.

Georgia

To avoid any confusion, let us make one thing clear: it’s Georgia, the European country, not Georgia, the US state. The Georgia national rugby union team is called “Borjgalosnebi” after the “Borjgali” (a local sun symbol) they use as their emblem or “Lelos”, a name derived from a local sport similar to rugby where the players had to carry a 7kg ball across the field (kicking was, of course, out of the question).

The Lelos have an impressive record: they are ranked 14th in the world, won the Rugby Europe Championship eight times, and qualified for the Rugby World Cup every year since 2003.