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In 1823,no one can see the future of this tough sport as a really popular one.A commemorative stone at Rugby school claims that 16-year-old student William Webb Ellis, “with a fine disregard for the rules of football…first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game.” Lucky he didn’t go to a Comprehensive – he’d have got the shoeing of his life.

Okay,so who are the fans of this mad sport?

First one is Scotland.Scotland are stronger than they have been at any this Millennium. Vern Cotter has improved them markedly and has provided a great platform for Gregor Townsend – one of the coaches of his generation – to profit from next season.

Second one is Australia.Whitewashed by a hugely-impressive England in June, Australia were runners-up in the Rugby Championship, and gave New Zealand a tough match in the final Bledisloe Cup game.Their narrow defeat in Dublin prevented them from getting onto the podium.

Another one is Ireland.2016 was a historic year for Ireland, as they beat New Zealand for the first time and secured a maiden win in South Africa. Victory against Australia in November gave them a rare hat-trick of southern hemisphere scalps.Defeats in the Six Nations and summer tour prevent them being even higher up this list.

English people are one of improver of this sport.Grand slam winners for the first time since 2003, historic whitewashers of Australia, and an autumn campaign that reads: played four, won four.England were missing countless players in November and December and still more than delivered. The worrying thing for everyone else is that they are still making plenty of mistakes. This team is going to provide New Zealand’s biggest test for a decade.

However,the best country in Rugby of all time is New Zealand.A blip in Chicago aside, the All Blacks were imperious in 2016. They waltzed to the Rugby Championship title playing some of the best rugby we have ever witnessed. And all this after losing Richie McCaw and the entire midfield to retirement.

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