The best cities in the world for rugby fans
Rugby captivates hearts, ignites competitive spirit and is watched, played and celebrated all over the world. For many of its biggest fans, rugby is more than just a game, it’s a global passion that brings people together. From global tournaments to local club matches, every corner of the world has a unique rugby story to tell. And no matter where you are, you’re never too far from a rugby match, a world-famous team or some lively local fan culture.
Sports like rugby give an authentic insight into people’s values, culture and way of life and help foster a sense of community when enjoyed together. So whether it’s celebrating pregame superstitions, mid-game chants or your favorite rugby players, you’re bound to have an exciting time with locals rooting for a favorite team.
Here are the world’s best cities for rugby fans to enjoy the game to the fullest.
Paris is a great city for rugby fans, having been an early home to the sport since the late 19th century when British expats formed the first rugby club in the country. Over the years, the France National Rugby Team established itself as a strong competitor, winning the first ever Olympic gold medal in the sport, and recently, the Six Nations Championship in 2022. If you want to support the French rugby team, get familiar with their national anthem 'La Marseillaise’ and sing along.
France is the host of the hotly anticipated 2023 Rugby World Cup. With over 600,000 international visitors traveling to France for the event, rugby fever in the country will continue for years to come.
Japan hosted the last Rugby World Cup back in 2019, the first time it was hosted in Asia. The Japanese national team, the Cherry Blossoms, are likely still on a high after their nail-biting 2015 World Cup game where they beat South Africa 34-32. The game left viewers on the edge of their seats while the crowd sang “Sakura, Sakura.” The lyrics to this famous Japanese folk song translate to “Cherry blossom, cherry blossom” and have been adopted by rugby fans to support the team in a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity.
Cape Town, South Africa
Rugby has played a vital role in South African history to unite its people of different backgrounds. The team’s 1995 Rugby World Cup win was a watershed moment of national unity and made World Cup history by cementing the country’s dominance within the sport.
Fans in Cape Town can join in the fun of rooting for the Springboks at a “shebeen”, a traditional South African tavern or pub. Try one of Cape Town’s oldest pubs, The Fireman’s Arms, established in 1864, surrounded by sports memorabilia, good food and even better vibes. Or attend a “braais”, a traditional South African barbeque, while watching the game with friends.
Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand is so passionate about rugby that it was made a national sport. The national team, known as the All Blacks, have won the World Cup three times making them the most successful team alongside South Africa. One of the most recognizable and impressive elements of the All Blacks team is its tradition of performing the “Haka” prior to matches. The Haka is a ceremonial war dance from Māori tribal culture. The All Blacks perform the ‘Ka Mate’ Haka before each game to challenge their opponents, show their strength and cultural pride. It is incredibly moving to watch, so make sure you catch one before they play.
Watching a rugby match at an Irish pub in Dublin seems only fitting for a country with so much rugby tradition and a member of the Six Nations league. Rugby is incredibly popular in Ireland, making Dublin a hotspot for fans, grand celebrations and jovial chants.
Most pubs across the city will show matches but some popular pubs like Searsons on Baggot Street and the Swan on Aungier Street are known for being hotbeds of rugby enthusiasm. In fact, the Swan was founded by legendary international Irish rugby player Sean Lync. So order some pub grub, chat with the locals and enjoy the game while brushing up on Irish anthems like ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ (‘The Soldier’s Song’) and “The Fields of Athenry.”
In Nice, rugby fans are known to be passionate, lively and creative when celebrating the French national rugby team, nicknamed "Les Tricolores" or "Les Bleus" due to their colorful jerseys. Be sure to learn some of the club's famous rugby songs before rooting for the team, such as the iconic chant “Allez Les Bleus” (meaning "Go Blues!"). During the Rugby World Cup 2023, Nice's futuristic stadium plays host to some of the biggest matchups of the tournament and establishes southern France as a popular rugby hub in the country, where a majority of its clubs operate.
In Sydney, the passion for rugby runs deep — especially when the Wallabies, Australia's national team, are in action. Games often become social events, with fans flocking to local pubs and bars, which broadcast matches live.
If you're in town, joining the locals in front of a big screen is a must. The camaraderie, chants, and traditions of Sydney's rugby fans are a spectacle in themselves. They have a tradition of donning the green and gold, singing along to "Waltzing Matilda", and relishing in friendly banter. Competing in every World Cup since its inception and clinching the title twice, the Wallabies embody Australia's fighting spirit and sportsmanship.
One of the best places in London to get into the rugby spirit is Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby. With so much history, charm and charisma, it’s hard not to feel the buzz at this famed spot, which was built on a literal cabbage patch and former garden. Nowadays, the stadium is nicknamed the “Cabbage Patch” and a nearby pub with the same name is where fans flock to watch the games on the big screen. Full of cherished rugby memorabilia, the pub is an integral part of the rugby experience for fans from all over the world.
With the universal language of rugby, fans can come together to explore some of the world's best cities while enjoying the sport.