Best Rugby Leagues In The World: Exploring The Biggest And Most Popular

High-quality rugby action takes place across the globe throughout the season. But, what are the best rugby leagues in the world?

Rugby union is one of the most popular sports across the world, with millions of fans tuning in to watch the latest action in the best rugby leagues in the world.

Competitive action takes place throughout the season in nations such as France, Australia, and the United Kingdom, with each major powerhouse each having a dominant domestic scene that enables players to showcase their skills on a weekly basis.

You can find out more about some of the best rugby leagues in the world below, and understand more about what is the best rugby league in the world.

Best Rugby Leagues In The World

There is no shortage of competitions in the conversation when it comes to the best rugby leagues in the world. However, it is worth mentioning that competitions in the tier one nations typically outshine action in countries from around the world. Therefore, these are most popular with players at Oval3 and the fans that just wish to turn into action throughout the season.

One of the standout competitions in the world is Top 14, which is the highest quality of rugby at club level in France. The added incentive of securing a place in the European Champions Cup adds to the competitive nature of the competition, which fans will also be hooked on the battles at the opposite end of the standings, as sides battle for points to avoid relegation.

The European Champions Cup is considered to be the highest-quality of rugby action on the continent of Europe, as 24 teams are involved every season looking to be named the best club side on the continent.

Some of the best teams from across Europe take part in the competition, with sides from England, France, Ireland, and Scotland all involved. It is expected to become even more competitive from the 2022-23 season, as South African sides will also be involved in one of the best rugby leagues in the world.

While the European Champions Cup is seen as the top-tier of competition on the continent, the EPCR Challenge Cup also offers a route into European action from clubs. Teams from England, France, Georgia, Wales, and South Africa compete in the second-tier competition, with 18 sides having been involved in the event since its inception in 1996.

The Criteria For Being The Best

To be ranked among the best rugby leagues in the world, there are a number of factors that are taken into consideration. Those include factors outside of the teams’ control, such as revenues that the competition is able to earn, and the broadcasting deals that enable fans to watch the action from across the planet. However, for the majority of fans, the easiest way to assess the best rugby league in the world is to consider the standard of quality on the field.

Domestic competitions across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand will often see the biggest stars on the planet in direct competition, meaning that international teammates often come up against each other in their quests to win major honours with their club side. Seeing these battles is unique, as those that watch only international action will never have another chance to see the best players from the same nation go toe-to-toe on the field.

Ranking the best rugby leagues in the world typically involves taking into account the clubs that the world’s best players play for, and assessing whether they will come up against other world leaders in their race to win major titles. Rugby fans often want to see the very best collide with each other on a weekly basis, and many of the best rugby leagues in the world achieve that on a regular basis.

In-Depth Analysis Of Best Rugby Leagues

Top 14

Top 14 is rightly regarded as the best rugby league in the world. The competition has established in 1892, and it has pitted the leading club sides in France against one another throughout history. As the name suggests, the competition will see the 14 best French sides in action, with teams vying for the top six spots, which guarantee progression through to the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams at the bottom end of the standings will be looking to avoid relegation to Rugby Pro D2.

Toulouse is the most successful team in the history of Top 14, with the French club landing their 22nd title at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. Stade Francais won the inaugural edition of the Top 14, and the side remains the second most successful team in Top 14 with 14 victories.


Premiership Rugby ranks among the best rugby leagues in the world and has been competitive throughout its history following its inception in 1987. The competition consists of ten clubs from across England, with the top performing sides gaining qualification to the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. In the Premiership, the top four sides in the regular season standings gain qualification to the playoffs, with the semi-finals determining the teams that will reach the Grand Final.

Saracens have been one of the most dominant teams in the competition throughout modern history, as they have been crowned champions on six occasions since 2010. The competition has hosted some of the game’s biggest stars throughout its history, including Faf de Klerk, Owen Farrell, and Dan Biggar.

United Rugby Championship

One of the most exciting and best rugby leagues in the world is United Rugby Championship. Despite being one of the newest competitions on the schedule, having only been inaugurated in 2001, the tournament has housed some of the biggest names in the game throughout history. It is a unique competition in the form that is sees teams from various countries compete. At present, URC is made up of teams from South Africa, Wales, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland.

Leinster have been the most successful team in the tournament since its introduction, as the Irish side has won eight championships between 2001 and 2021. Throughout history, some of the biggest stars from across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have played starring roles in the tournament, with Dan Biggar, Evan Roos, and Marcell Coetzee all being named Player of the Year in the URC.

Super Rugby

Super Rugby is regarded as one of the best rugby leagues in the world, as it pits teams from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Pacific Islands against one another. The competition was first formed as the Super 12 in 2996, before it was rebranded to Super Rugby following the 2011 season. Australia has produced the most successful teams in the tournament, with five victories in its current format.

The Crusaders have been the most successful team in the history of Super Rugby, with the side landing their 12th title in 2023. Some of the most celebrated players in history have competed in Super Rugby throughout their careers. Those include Dan Carter, who has scored the most points in the history of the competition. Other legendary players to have played in the best rugby league in the world include Israel Folau, Bryan Habana, and Caleb Ralph.

The Future of Rugby Leagues

One of the most exciting factors about modern day rugby union competitions is the fact that there is a lot of cross-border competition. That means that fans get the opportunity to see more of the best players being pitted against one another.

That appears to be something that will continue over the coming years, as there will likely be more tournaments that are introduced that will see clubs from nations such as France and England coming up against teams from New Zealand and South Africa.

These types of competitions will have a huge impact on the attendance figures and fans tuning in to watch action throughout the season, as seeing the very best in the world in action is what makes the best rugby leagues in the world stand out from the crowd.


We have gone through some of the best rugby leagues in the world above, and assessed what makes them standout from the crowd.

The demand to see the very best in the world compete against one another is a key factor in determining what is the best rugby league in the world, and therefore it is no surprise that competitions such as Top 14, Super Rugby, and the Premiership rank among the most followed on the planet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Considered the Best Rugby League in the World?

Super Rugby, Top 14, and the Premiership rank among the top three best rugby leagues in the world.

How Are the Best Rugby Leagues Ranked?

The top rugby leagues in the world are ranked by the World Rugby Rankings. But, the top three very rarely change due to their competitive nature.

Who Are the Most Successful Teams in the Best Rugby Leagues?

Toulouse is one of the most successful teams in domestic rugby, having won 22 Top 14 titles throughout their history. Saracens and Leinster also rank among the most prominent following their respective Premiership and URC titles.

How Do Teams Qualify for the Best Rugby Leagues?

Competitions such as the Top 14 and Premiership rugby both have relegation and promotions, meaning teams in the second tier can earn their spot in the top flight by performing better than their rivals over a single season.

How Do the Rules Vary Among the Best Rugby Leagues?

For the most part, the rules across the major competitions are similar, with the regular season table being used to determine the seedings the playoffs ahead of a Grand Final.


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