Rugby World Cup



Rugby World Cup Wikipedia

"RWC" redirects here. For other uses, see RWC (disambiguation).
This article is about a rugby union competition. For the equivalent tournament in rugby league, see Rugby League World Cup.
Rugby World Cup
A gold cup with two handles inscribed with
The Webb Ellis Cup which is awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup
SportRugby union
Number of teams20
RegionWorldwide (International Rugby Board)
Holders New Zealand (2011)
Most titles New Zealand (2 titles)
 Australia (2 titles)
 South Africa (2 titles)
Rugby World Cup 2007Opening Ceremony1.jpg
The opening ceremony of the 2007 tournament
  • 1987
  • 1991
  • 1995
  • 1999
  • 2003
  • 2007
  • 2011
  • 2015
  • 2019
  • 2023
The Rugby World Cup is a rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament was first held in 1987, when the tournament was co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia. The most recent tournament was held in 2011 in New Zealand, whose national team won the tournament after defeating France in the final.

The winners are awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup, named after William Webb Ellis, the Rugby School pupil who — according to a popular myth — invented rugby by picking up the ball during a football game. Three teams have won the trophy twice, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; while England have won the tournament once.

The tournament is administered by the International Rugby Board (IRB), the sport's international governing body. Sixteen teams were invited to participate in the inaugural tournament in 1987, however since 1999 twenty teams have taken part. Hosting of the 2015 World Cup has been awarded to England, while Japan will host the event in 2019.




          Main article: Rugby World Cup qualification
          Qualifying tournaments were introduced for the second tournament, where eight of the sixteen places were contested in a twenty-four-nation tournament. The inaugural World Cup in 1987, did not involve any qualifying process; instead, the 16 places were automatically filled by seven eligible International Rugby Football Board (IRFB, now, International Rugby Board) member nations, and the rest by invitation.

          The current format allows for twelve of the twenty available positions to be filled by automatic qualification, as the teams who finish third or better in the group (pool) stages of the previous tournament enter its successor (where they will be seeded). The qualification system for the remaining eight places is region-based, with Europe and the Americas allocated two qualifying places each, Africa, Asia and Oceania one place each, with the last place determined by a play-off.

          The previous format, used in 2003 and 2007, allowed for eight of the twenty available positions to be filled by automatic qualification, as the eight quarter finalists of the previous tournament enter its successor. The remaining twelve positions were filled by continental qualifying tournaments. Positions were filled by three teams from the Americas, one from Asia, one from Africa, three from Europe and two from Oceania. Another two places were allocated for repechage. The first repechage place was determined by a match between the runners-up from the Africa and Europe qualifying tournaments, with that winner then playing the Americas runner-up to determine the place. The second repechage position was determined between the runners-up from the Asia and Oceania qualifiers.


          The 2015 tournament will twenty nations competing over six weeks. There are two stages, a group and a knock-out. Nations are divided into four pools, A through to D, of five nations each. The teams are seeded before the start of the tournament, with the seedings taken from the IRB World Rankings. The four highest-ranked teams are placed in pools A to D. The next four highest-ranked teams are then drawn into the pools at random, followed by the next four. The remaining positions in each pool are filled by the qualifiers.

          Nations play four pool games, playing their respective pool members once each. A bonus points system is used during pool play. If two or more teams are level on points, a system of criteria is used to determine the higher ranked; the sixth and final criterion decides the higher rank through the official IRB World Rankings.

          The winner and runner-up of each pool enter the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage consists of quarter- and semi-finals, and then the final. The winner of each pool is placed against a runner-up of a different pool in a quarter-final. The winner of each quarter-final goes on to the semi-finals, and the respective winners proceed to the final. Losers of the semi-finals contest for third place, called the 'Bronze Final'. If a match in the knock-out stages ends in a draw, the winner is determined through extra time. If that fails, the match goes into sudden death and the next team to score any points is the winner. As a last resort, a kicking competition is used.


          Main article: History of the Rugby World Cup
          A player holds a ball in front of two opposing groups of eight players. Each group is crouched and working together to push against the other team.

          A scrum between Samoa (in blue) and Wales (in red) during the 2011 World Cup
          Prior to the Rugby World Cup, there were only regional international rugby union competitions. One of the largest and oldest is the Six Nations Championship, which started in 1883 as the "Home Nations" championship, a tournament between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It became the Five Nations in 1910, when France joined the tournament. France did not participate from 1931 to 1939, during which period it reverted to a Home Nations championship. In 2000, Italy joined the competition, which became the Six Nations.

          In the southern hemisphere, the equivalent competition is The Rugby Championship, involving Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It began in 1996 as the Tri Nations with the latter three countries participating; Argentina debuted in the renamed competition in 2012.

          Rugby union was also played at the Summer Olympics, first appearing at the 1900 Paris games and subsequently at London in 1908, Antwerp in 1920, and Paris again in 1924. France won the first gold medal, then Australasia, with the last two being won by the United States. However rugby union was soon removed from the Summer Olympic program.

          The idea of a Rugby World Cup had been suggested on numerous occasions going back to the 1950s, but met with opposition from most unions in the IRFB. The idea resurfaced several times in the early 1980s, with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) independently writing to the IRFB seeking to conduct a World Cup tournament. In 1985, Australia, New Zealand and France were in favour of a world cup and, despite knowing that the international sports boycott of the apartheid regime would prevent their participation, the South African delegates also voted in favour, which was vital in tying the vote 8–8. When one English delegate followed by a Welsh delegate switched sides, the IRFB finally approved the inaugural cup, by 10 votes to 6.

          The inaugural tournament, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, was held in May and June 1987, with sixteen nations taking part. New Zealand became the first ever champions, defeating France 29–9 in the final. The subsequent 1991 tournament was hosted by England, with matches being played throughout Britain, Ireland and France. This tournament also saw the abolition of invitation qualification, with a qualifying tournament being introduced which involved thirty-five nations. Australia won the second tournament, defeating England 12–6 in the final.

          The 1995 tournament was hosted by South Africa and was the first in which South Africa participated, following the end of the international sports boycott. The tournament had a fairytale ending, as South Africa were crowned champions over New Zealand, with then President Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey and matching baseball cap, presenting the trophy to South Africa's captain, Francois Pienaar. The tournament in 1999 was hosted by Wales with matches also being held throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. The tournament included a repechage system, alongside specific regional qualifying places, and an increase from sixteen to twenty participating nations. Australia claimed their second title, defeating France in the final.

          The 2003 event was hosted by Australia, although it was originally intended to be held jointly with New Zealand. England emerged as champions defeating Australia in extra time. England's win was unique in that it broke the southern hemisphere's dominance in the event. Such was the celebration of England's victory, that an estimated 750,000 people gathered in central London to greet the team, making the day the largest sporting celebration of its kind ever in the United Kingdom.

          The 2007 competition was hosted by France, with matches also being held in Wales and Scotland. South Africa claimed their second title by defeating defending champions England 15–6. The 2011 tournament was awarded to New Zealand in November 2005, ahead of bids from Japan and South Africa. The All Blacks reclaimed their place atop the rugby world with a narrow 8–7 win over France in the 2011 final.

          Rugby World Cup Limited recommended to the IRB that the 2015 and 2019 World Cups be held in England and Japan, respectively, and in July 2009 it was announced that this proposal was adopted.


          Main article: Webb Ellis Cup
          The Webb Ellis Cup is the prize presented to winners of the Rugby World Cup, named after William Webb Ellis. The trophy is also referred to simply as the Rugby World Cup. The trophy was chosen in 1987 as an appropriate cup for use in the competition, and was created in 1906 by Garrard's Crown Jewellers. The words 'International Rugby Board' and 'The Webb Ellis Cup' are engraved on the face of the cup. It stands thirty-eight centimetres high and is silver gilded in gold, and supported by two cast scroll handles, one with the head of a satyr, and the other a head of a nymph. In Australia the trophy is colloquially known as "Bill" — a reference to William Webb Ellis.

          Selection of hosts

          Main article: Rugby World Cup hosts
          Tournaments are organised by Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL), which is itself owned by the IRB. The selection of host is decided by a vote of the IRB Council members. The voting procedure is managed by a team of independent auditors, and the voting kept secret. The allocation of a tournament to a host nation is now made five or six years prior to the commencement of the event, for example New Zealand were awarded the 2011 event in late 2005.

          The tournament has been hosted by multiple nations. For example the 1987 tournament was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The IRB requires that the hosts must have a venue with a capacity of at least 60,000 spectators for the final. Host nations sometimes construct or upgrade stadia in preparation for the World Cup, such as Millennium Stadium – purpose built for the 1999 tournament – and Eden Park, upgraded for 2011. The first country outside of the traditional rugby nations of SANZAR or the Six Nations to be awarded the hosting rights was Japan, who will host the 2019 tournament.

          Tournament growth

          Media coverage

          The tournament is one of the largest international sporting events in the world, surpassed in scale only by the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, and the Tour de France. The first World Cup, in 1987, had a cumulative world television audience of 300 million; its successor, the 1991 event in England, reached 1.75 billion. South Africa's 1995 tournament reached 2.67 billion, and the 1999 Welsh-hosted event reached 3 billion. The 2003 tournament had a cumulative world television audience of 3.5 billion, and the final, between Australia and England, became the most watched rugby union match in the history of Australian television. The event was broadcast in 205 countries. The 2007 tournament had a cumulative world television audience of 4 billion.


          See also: List of sports attendance figures

          Attendance figures
          YearHost(s)Total attendanceMatchesAvg attendance% ChangeStadium Capacity% of Capacity
          1987AustraliaNew Zealand604,5003220,156--1,006,35060%
          1995South Africa1,100,0003234,375+9%1,423,85077%
          2011New Zealand1,477,2944830,777-35%1,732,00085%
          • The 1999 RWC average attendance exceeded even the average attendance (42,269) of the following FIFA World Cup in 2002.
          • The 2011 RWC in New Zealand saw the largest drop in attendance, averaging lower attendance than the 2011 Tri Nations competition (46,497).


          Revenue for Rugby World Cup tournaments
          Gate receipts (M £)----155581147131
          Broadcasting (M £)----1944608293
          Sponsorship (M £)----818162829
          • The host union keeps revenue from gate receipts. The IRB, through RWCL, receive revenue from sources including broadcasting rights, sponsorship and tournament fees.



          YearHost(s)FinalBronze FinalNumber of teams
          WinnerScoreRunner-up3rd placeScore4th place
          1987Australia Australia &
          New Zealand New Zealand

          New Zealand



          1991England England,
          France France,
          Ireland Ireland
          Scotland Scotland &
          Wales Wales



          New Zealand

          1995South Africa South Africa

          South Africa


          New Zealand


          1999Wales Wales



          South Africa

          New Zealand
          2003Australia Australia




          New Zealand

          2007France France

          South Africa



          2011New Zealand New Zealand

          New Zealand



          2015England England20

          Performance of nations

          Map of nations' best results (excluding qualifying tournaments).
          See also: National team appearances in the Rugby World Cup
          Twenty-five nations have participated at the Rugby World Cup (excluding qualifying tournaments). Of the seven tournaments that have been held, all but one have been won by a national team from the southern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere's dominance has been broken only in 2003, when England beat Australia in the final.

          Thus far the only nations to host and win a tournament are New Zealand (1987 and 2011) and South Africa (1995). The performance of other host nations includes England (1991 final hosts) and Australia (2003 hosts) finishing runners-up. France (2007 hosts) finished fourth, while Wales (1999 hosts) failed to reach the semi-finals. Of the twenty-five nations that have ever participated in at least one tournament, twelve of them have never missed a tournament.

          Team records

           New Zealand2 (1987, 2011)1 (1995)2 (1991, 2003)1 (1999)
           Australia2 (1991, 1999)1 (2003)1 (2011)1 (1987)
           South Africa2 (1995, 2007)1 (1999)
           England1 (2003)2 (1991, 2007)1 (1995)
           France3 (1987, 1999, 2011)1 (1995)2 (2003, 2007)
           Wales1 (1987)1 (2011)
           Argentina1 (2007)
           Scotland1 (1991)
          The following teams have reached the quarter-finals but never progressed beyond that stage:
          •  Ireland (five times)
          •  Fiji (twice)
          •  Samoa (twice)
          •  Canada (once)

          Records and statistics

          A middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie holding the Scottish flag.

          Gavin Hastings is one of four players to have kicked a record eight penalties in a single World Cup match.
          Main articles: Records and statistics of the Rugby World Cup, Rugby World Cup try scorers and List of Rugby World Cup hat-tricks
          The record for most points overall is held by English player Jonny Wilkinson, who scored 277 over his World Cup career. Grant Fox of New Zealand holds the record for most points in one competition, with 126 in 1987; Jason Leonard of England holds the record for most World Cup matches: 22 between 1991 and 2003. Simon Culhane holds the record for most points in a match by one player, 45, as well as the record for most conversions in a match, 20. Marc Ellis holds the record for most tries in a match, six, which he scored against Japan in 1995.

          All Black Jonah Lomu holds a number of records: most career tries – 15 from the 1995 and 1999 tournaments, youngest player to appear in a final – aged 20 years and 43 days at the 1995 Final, and most tries in a single tournament – 8 in 1999. South African Bryan Habana equalled Lomu's record for most tries in one competition when he scored 8 in 2007. The record for most penalties in a match is 8, held by Matt Burke, Gonzalo Quesada, Gavin Hastings and Thierry Lacroix, and the record for most penalties in a tournament, 31, is held by Gonzalo Quesada. South Africa's Jannie de Beer kicked five drop-goals against England in 1995 – an individual record for a single World Cup match.

          The most points scored in a game is 145 — by the All Blacks against Japan in 1995, while the widest winning margin is 142, held by Australia in a match against Namibia in 2003.

          A total of 16 players have been sent off (red carded) in the tournament. Welsh lock Huw Richards was the first, while playing against New Zealand in 1987. No players has been red carded more than once.

          Source: Wikipedia ( )
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