Rugby clubs come and go, but some still remain who have become the icon of a nation, generation or even the world. Loved by some, despised by many, these are the teams that will continue to excite, mystify, inspire and provoke, long after the current shirt holders have vacated their place for the next generation…
Possibly the most unique team in not just rugby but World sport, the British & Irish Lions unite nations like no other as England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland unite in a singular purpose once every four years. Whilst the team may not have been as successful as many would hope over the years, it makes each series victory extra special, especially as the side only tour once every four years.
The Lions are also a truly special team for South Africa, New Zealand and Australia as even the top internationals in each country are only likely to get to play them in one series during their career. The hyperbole around the 2013 tour shows just how much this team still means to the fans as they cheered their team on to a first series victory in 16 years.
What could be more unique than an invitational only team that draws its talent pool from across the globe despite not even having a registered club house. Players are invited based on their good behaviour both on and off the pitch and are known to play some of the most exciting, free-flowing rugby in the world today. Barbarians FC are one of the great last bastions of the amateur era still retaining their gung-ho approach and for the most part avoiding the trappings of modern corporate rugby.
Considering the club was formed in 1890 so W.P. Carpmael could continue playing in the off season with his friends, the team have done pretty well to stand the test of time and still remain relevant in the modern commercialised world of rugby. Each player still wears his club socks alongside the famous black and white striped shirt helping to preserve the unique brand for future generations.
The All Blacks
What more can be said about the New Zealand national team that hasn’t already been mentioned. The iconic all black kit, the haka, free flowing rugby, World number 1 rankings – the All Blacks truly are one of, if not the most iconic teams in world rugby. In a country where Union truly is the national sport, what could be more aspirational than pulling on the All Black jersey and stepping out to represent your country.
Whilst the team will always be best known for their kit and the haka, it is also important to remember that so many of the modern techniques currently employed in the game have been developed and harassed in New Zealand. It is no coincidence that they still remain the most imposing opposition in world rugby.
Australia’s first gay Rugby Union club, the Sydney Convicts represent the great diversity shown in our sport. The club is completely all inclusive and identifies itself as predominantly gay rather than a Gay Rugby Club. The Convicts are debatably the most successful predominantly gay rugby club in the World having won the Bingham Cup on two separate occasions.
Former president Maz Guazzini steered Stade Français in a direction no other French club had dreamt of before. Always one for the spectacular, Guazzini introduced cheerleaders, remote control cars, bells and fireworks to the French capital in a bid to turn Stade Français into a true spectacle. On top of this he also introduced the iconic pink jersey to the squad, throwing caution to the wind as he attempted to change the overly macho perception of rugby.
Guazzini has helped make the team one of the most iconic brands in France through his overt marketing and acquisition of world class stars. His off field contacts also see players regularly attending movie premiers and celebrity partners further heightening the profile of the club. The blend of wildly extravagant shirts coupled with the ultra macho figures who fill them will help to ensure the club remain a true icon of French rugby for years to come.
Arguably the most successful invitational 7s side in the World, the Samurai 7s are famed for the unique kits and equally striking play on the field. From it’s beginnings as a self-funded side attending minor local tournaments, the team has gone on to become a global juggernaut on the 7s circuits winning a number of prestigious events and continuing to enthral fans across the globe.
United States Wheelchair Rugby Team
It is only in recent years that Wheelchair rugby has started to catch the worlds attention and it is for that reason that many people aren’t aware of the sports origins in the University of North Dakota in 1981. The sport soon spread throughout the country and has led to the US national team being arguably the most successful in the game.