Top 20 rugby union countries with most registered players

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The world of rugby union is full of countries who sit at the forefront of discussions and success, but many whom have a huge rugby culture sit deeper in the shadows and may shock some fans when they see them in our list of top 20 countries with the most registered players. 

World rankings will be calculated on men’s XVs, official World Rugby rankings.

20. Russia

Players: 25,558

World ranking: 20th

19. Canada

Players: 27,512

World ranking: 23rd

18. Madagascar

Players: 34,393

World ranking: 51st

17. Spain

Players: 34,822

World ranking: 18th

16. China

Players: 35,361

World ranking: 80th

15. Scotland

Players: 49,265

World ranking: 8th

Stuart Hogg of Scotland during the Incoming Tour match between South Africa and Scotland at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on June 28, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

14. Kenya

Players: 50,541

World ranking: 32nd

13. Sri Lanka

Players: 53,282

World ranking: 47th

12th. Wales

Players: 83,120

World ranking: 6th

11th. Italy

Players: 87,211

World ranking: 14th

10th. Ireland

Players: 101,922

World ranking: 4th

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FUKUROI, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 28: Ireland fans singing the anthem before the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group A game between Japan and Ireland at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on September 28, 2019 in Fukuroi, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

9th. Argentina

Players: 105,151

World ranking: 10th

8th. Japan

Players: 105,693

World ranking: 9th

7th. USA

Players: 119,682

World ranking: 16th

6th. Fiji

Players: 122,453

World ranking: 11th

5th. New Zealand

Players: 150,727

World ranking: 2nd

Lock Brad Thorn celebrates following his team’s 8-7 victory as the final whistle during the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup Final match between France and New Zealand at Eden Park on October 23, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

4th. Australia

Players: 230,753

World ranking: 7th

3rd. England

Players: 382,154

World ranking: 3rd

2nd. South Africa

Players: 405,438

World ranking: 1st

1st. France

Players: 542,242

World ranking: 5th

Rugby union may be strong in its traditional strongholds, but there are some emerging nations that could become relatively strong in years to come due to player numbers.

*all stats taken from World Rugby website.


“Main photo credit”

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Fans in Madagascar watch their side thrash Nigeria. Credit @RugbyAfrique.