This list is about the best teams in the world currently, which is why historically successful teams like Wasps, Toulon and Chiefs do not feature on this list.
We begin this list with one of the best South African sides over the last one hundred years. The Sharks are not necessarily a side with a huge amount of team success in the past as they struggled to compete with the New Zealand dominated Super Rugby.
But in their time in the competition the Sharks made the final four times as well as another four semi final appearances. The Sharks team is more in this position because of the incredible talent they have at the moment as well as in the past.
At current, the Sharks have some of the Springboks superstars with guys like Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Lukhanyo Am. This group of internationals also includes South Africa’s world cup winning captain Siya Kolisi. This is a scary group and their full strength team would feature a team consisting of over half internationals.
The Sharks have also been the team of South African legends like Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit and their leading appearance maker is The Beast, Tendai Mtawarira. The Sharks are a feared team.
9. Leicester Tigers
One of the most successful teams in English club rugby history, Leicester Tigers have experienced a resurgence over the past few years after a trophyless nine years. The Tigers title in 2022 was the teams eleventh of the English Premiership and their success has also included two European Cups.
Leicester have been the home of English legends like Will Greenwood, Lewis Moody and Julian White. Their team today features an incredible amount of talent that helped lead Leicester to the title.
It starts with a brilliant group of youngsters that are revolutionising the Tigers and should bring them a massive amount of success in the future. This Tigers team features guys like Jack van Poortvliet, Freddie Steward and Ollie Chessum who all look like they will be key parts of the England team going forward.
Those youngsters are complimented by international talent like Jasper Wiese, Hanro Liebenberg and Tommy Reffell, with Wiese and Reffell both excelling on international duty during the summer. In the summer of 2022 Leicester added South African World Cup winning fly-half Handre Pollard as well as former British and Irish Lion Anthony Watson.
This Tigers team do not have the same bite after losing leader and superstar Ellis Genge in the summer as well as long-time fly-half George Ford. But this team still has some incredible talent and could easily win more trophies in the future.
Despite New Zealand dominating Super Rugby, the Bulls are one of the few teams to have success in the competition. They won three titles in four years which places them as the joint second most successful side in the competition as well as winning all three of the finals that they have been too.
Those teams featured some of the best South African players of all time and the Bulls were the side that Bryan Habana hade his name, still being the teams top try scorer of all time. Those title winning teams also featured players like Morne Steyn, Victor Matfild and Danie Rossouw.
The Bulls are no longer part of Super Rugby after the South African teams decided to form the URC with teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There was some thought that it would take a year or so for the South African teams to make their impact on the competition but the Bulls reached the final in the first season of the URC.
It is because of the incredible talent that this Blues side has, particularly in their backs. The Bulls are strong upfront with guys like Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw and captain Marcell Coetzee. But it is their incredible backs who make the Bulls one of the worlds best teams.
Morne Steyn can nail every kick needed even at the age of 38. Their best back three features Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Sbu Nkosi which creates one of the fastest and most exciting back threes in the world.
French rugby has always been successful and Toulouse have been one of the best French teams over the last few years. The French teams success started early on in European club rugby as they have won the European Rugby Champions Cup five times including three times in seven years.
In France they are the most successful side domestically with 21 top flight titles including four since 2011. Their success has included four trips to the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-finals over the last four years. The teams success is predicated on the brilliant talent they have developed.
French legends like Thierry Dusautoir, Vincent Clerc and Louis Picamoles all made their names with Toulouse and were part of the incredible success that the side had in the early 2010s. Today the team features what many people consider the best player in the world in Antoine Dupont who was World Rugby Player of the Year in 2021 and helped France to a Grand Slam at the start of 2022.
One of the reasons for Toulouse being successful now and in the past is because of the brilliant international talent they can attract. Toulouse have been able to attract international superstars like Jerome Kaino, Cheslin Kolbe and Toby Flood away from their countries to bolster their ranks.
This Toulouse side is still one of the best teams in the world with one of the scariest front rows in the world thanks to Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille and Charlie Faumuina. They are a team to look out for.
6. Stade Rochelais
France have had a brilliantly successful group of teams and one of the teams that has particularly stood out over the past couple of years would be Stade Rochelais.
Despite being very high on this list, the team have only been to the Top 14 final once, losing in the 2021 final. Over the last few years Stade Rochelais have excelled and become one of the best teams in Europe. This began when they reached the Challenge Cup final in 2019, losing to Clermont.
A year later they were in the Champions Cup and Top 14 finals, but lost both. 2022 was finally the year when the Ronan O’Gara led team won their first title, defeating Leinster in an incredibly physical final where a 79th minute try from Arthur Retiere defeated the Irish side who were the favourite going in.
Stade Rochelais won that title because of an incredible physical team. They are led upfront by Uini Atonio, Pierre Bourgarit and Joel Sclavi. Will Skelton and Gregory Alldritt are an incredible physical pair who are almost impossible to stop in attack.
This physicality extends to their backs with Levani Botia and Jonathan Danty being one of the best centre combinations in the world. If the team could not get much better they can now boast a wing partnership of Teddy Thomas and Raymond Rhule, adding Thomas from rivals Racing 92 in the summer.
The Stormers are probably the least successful side in the history of professional rugby. In the teams time in Super Rugby they only reached one final. This was back in 2010 and they benefitted from an incredibly talented team.
South African legends like Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen and Bryan Habana all featured in that 2010 final. Since then, the Stormers have struggled to replicate that success. The Stormers became part of the URC in 2021 for the competitions inaugural season and were immediately successful.
The Stormers are the current URC champions thanks to a brilliant 85th minute winning try in the URC semi-final and then a defensively strong victory over the Bulls in the 2022 final. This Stormers team is incredibly successful because of a huge amount of Springbok talent. Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe are two of the best props in the world and the Stormers are able to scrum successfully against almost any team.
Evan Roos is a star in the back row for the Stormers and looks likely to be in the South African team for many years to come. Damian Willemse is one of the best backs in the world and this Stormers team can out physical anyone on their day.
The teams inclusion in the European Champions Cup is going to make it very difficult for the European teams going forward and the Stormers can be a dominant force in the URC for years to come.
There is no doubt that including Saracens on this list will be slightly controversial. Saracens were a good English team in the 2000s but started to become a dominant team in the 2010s. During this time they won five Premiership titles as well as being runners up two more times in the decade.
This Saracens team featured an incredible amount of talent as well as being so well drilled that they could blow teams out of the water incredibly quickly. But the reason for the controversy is that Saracens success came partly from breaking salary cap rules.
In 2019 they were found to be breaking salary cap regulations by investing in companies alongside some of their players to get around the regulations. They were punished for this by being relegated to the Championship for the 2020-21 season, a massive blow to the club that has put an asterisk on their success over the 2010s considering the superstars they were able to recruit.
Saracens success does come from a brilliant academy and being able to recruit stars. Guys like Ben Earl, Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell have all come up through the ranks of Saracens and have gone on to become international stars.
But Saracens have also been able to recruit some brilliant talent. Tongan Theo McFarland looks like one of the best back rows in the world despite being an unknown previous to 2021. Saracens have also brought in talent like Hugh Tizard, Elliot Daly and Aled Davies to bolster the brilliant talent they already have.
Saracens are back in the Premiership and look like by far the best English team so far this season and they can be a real threat in Europe again in the next couple of years.
Super Rugby has gone through a huge amount of changes in the history of the competition but there is one thing that has been constant, New Zealand teams dominating. While the Blues have not seen the same success as the team coming up on this list they are still one of the best teams in the world.
In the history of Super Rugby the Blues have won the title three times as well as being the runners-up in the 2022 competition, losing to the Crusaders in the final. That loss should not take away from the Blues being one of the best domestic teams in the world and they won Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in 2021.
Despite not having a huge amount of success, the Blues could easily beat any team in the world due to their incredible talent. Former two time World Rugby player of the year Beauden Barrett leads the Blues from Fly-Half and still looks like one of the best players in the world.
Barrett is flanked by an incredible cast of stars. Up front the team can choose from four different All Black props and can create a full All Black back row with their stars. What really makes this current Blues team exciting is their stars in the backs. Rieko Ioane still looks like he can get through any defence and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could be one of the best dual-code players if they can find the right position for him.
There are definitely some teams in the list above who could beat one of these top two teams, but the Crusaders and Leinster are likely a step above the other teams on this list due to the incredible mixture of talent and success.
The Crusaders have dominated Super Rugby at an absurd level, with no other team getting anywhere close to the success that they have had. This success comes from some of the best players in the history of rugby.
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw have both retired as New Zealand legends and both also retired as Crusaders legends. In total, the Crusaders have won Super Rugby eleven times which includes six straight titles despite all of the change in the competition. The Crusaders have been so successful that they have a winning record against every team they have ever played.
The current team Is just as successful as any team in the history of the Crusaders. The Crusaders have countless All Blacks. It stars up front as the Crusaders can produce a front three of George Bower, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody. Pablo Matera was the star of the 2022 Super Rugby campaign.
He helped to create space out wide for guys like Will Jordan, Sevu Reece and Leicester Fainga’anuku to score plenty of tries, with all three of those players being the leading try scorer for the 2022 Super Rugby season. The Crusaders can beat any team on their day.
It is certainly close between these two teams as to who is the best in the world, but considering Ireland’s success over New Zealand in the summer they have to be considered the best domestic side in the world.
This is not the first time that Leinster have been the best team in the world. Leinster have won the European Champions Cup four times as well as finishing as the runners up in 2019 and 2021. In the URC, Leinster have been phenomenal, winning the competition eight times including four titles in a row prior to 2022.
This success is down to some of the best Irish players of all time like Brian O’Driscoll, Leo Cullen and Johnny Sexton, with Sexton being the teams captain over the last few years. The Irish influence is exactly what has made Leinster so successful over the last few years as they have the majority of the Ireland team.
Of the 23 players involved in Ireland’s historic third test win over New Zealand in Wellington, 13 of those players play for Leinster including 11 of the starters. Leinster have Irish internationals like Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and James Lowe in the backs.
Their front row is dominant up top thanks to seven international quality players in just their front three as well as reigning European Player of the Year Josh van der Flier being a mainstay in their back row alongside Caelan Doris and Jack Conan. With a star studded coaching staff and brilliant tactics, Leinster are still the best domestic side in the world even with their two final losses in 2022.