Initially, there was no global rugby competition until late into the 20th century, though there were several tournaments involving a number of nations. One such tournament is the Six Nations’ Championship. It was established in 1983, and it used to be called the Home Nations Championship. Then, it involved four different countries. These are England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Later on France joined the tournament, and it changed names to the Five Nations Championship. Italy is the most recent team to join the competition in 2000, and hence it acquired the name currently in use, Six Nations Championship.
Teams in the rugby union, not having a global tournament, participated in summer Olympic Games. The first appearance was in the Paris games of 1900. They later took part in the 1908 London games, the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and the 1924 games in Paris again. After this rugby union ceased to participate in the Olympics. This, in some way, gave birth to the idea of a single global rugby competition.
The idea of an all nations’ inclusive competition had been voiced several times prior to the adoption of the Rugby World Cup as a competition. The earliest suggestion of a global tournament was expressed in the 1950s. It was suggested several other times, but each time the majority of the rugby union board voted against it. The idea then came back again in the 1980s. Both the Australian rugby union and the New Zealand rugby union independently suggested that there be established a rugby World Cup. This time around the idea went successfully through the board with a 10-6 vote in favour.
The first world cup was held in 1987. It was hosted jointly by New Zealand and Australia. It comprised of 16 national teams. New Zealand went ahead to win the trophy and became the first nation to win it. It is also the most successful nation with three trophies to its name.