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The Ireland rugby team is one of the original four Home Nations Championship competitors and represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ireland competes in the (now expanded) annual Six Nations Championship.

They first played international rugby in 1875 when the Irish rugby side lost to England and Ireland is one of the four unions from which the British and Irish Lions team is chosen.

Irish rugby really became a force over the past decade or so and they rose to number one in the World Rugby Rankings for the first time in 2019.

The four provinces of Ireland have been among the leading sides in the PRO14 (and lately the PRO16), one of the top three rugby competitions in Europe.

Eight of the finalists in the last six seasons are Irish and 12 of the 20 PRO14 and PRO16 champions since 2001 were from Ireland.

The Irish have produced some outstanding leaders at administrative level and some outstanding players.

There have been 26 test matches between South Africa and Ireland, of which South Africa have won 18, Ireland 7 with one test drawn.