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Rugby World Cup: All You Must Know.

The Rugby World Cup is the world’s premier international rugby union competition. The International Rugby Board (IRB) organizes the event. It is competed by the men’s national rugby union teams. The first tournament was held in 1987. Both Australia and New Zealand hosted it. It is now held every four years.

Rugby World Cup

The Webb Ellis Cup is named after the Rugby School student credited with inventing the game. It is awarded to the winners. The tournament is one of the world’s largest international sporting competitions. England currently holds the title of world champion. Further, having won the 2003 tournament in Australia. The 2007 Rugby World Cup will be held in France in September and October.

Qualification for Rugby World Cup

Qualifying tournaments were introduced for the second tournament. In this tournament, eight of the sixteen available spots. These were contested in a 24-nation tournament. The first Rugby World Cup, held in 1987, had no qualifying process. Instead, the 16 places were filled automatically by seven eligible International Rugby Football Board IRFB. It is now called International Rugby Board, member nations, with the remainder by invitation.

Rugby World Cup

The current format allows for eight of the twenty available positions to be filled by automatic qualification. As the previous tournament’s eight quarter-finalists enter its successor. Continental qualifying tournaments fill the remaining 12 positions. Three teams from the Americas, one from Asia, one from Africa, and three from Europe. And two from Oceania compete for positions. Another two spots are set aside for repechage.

The runner-up from the Africa and Europe qualifying tournaments. They determine the first repechage place. Further with that winner then playing the runner-up. From the Americas to determine the place. The runners-up from the Asia and Oceania qualifiers compete for the second repechage spot.

Rugby World Cup Tournament

The current model involves 20 nations competing in the host country for a month (s). There are two stages: a group stage and a knockout stage. Nations are divided into four groups of five, A through D. The pool allocation system places teams ranked one through four. In the previous tournament, into pools A through D, respectively. The other four automatic entrants. The previous tournament’s losing quarter-finalists—are drawn randomly into an individual pool.

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The qualifiers fill the remaining positions in each pool. Nations compete in four pool games. Each with one of their pool members. A nation will receive four points for a win and two points for a tie. Bonus points can be earned. By scoring four tries in a match or losing by seven points or less. Total points determine overall pool positions. Each pool’s winner (first place) and runner-up (second place) advance to the knockout stage.

The knockout stage consists of the quarter and semi-final matches. Further followed by the final. In a quarter-final, the winner of each pool is pitted against the runner-up of the opposing pool. Each quarter-final winner advances to the semi-finals. This is where the respective winners advance to the final. The semi-final losers compete for a third (and fourth) place.

History of Rugby World Cup

Before the Rugby World Cup, there had been several competitions of a similar nature. The Home Nations competition was first played. Between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales from 1883 to 1909. It is one of the largest and oldest international rugby union competitions. When France joined in 1910, it became the Five Nations. However, they were barred from participating from 1931 to 1939. Due to allegations of professionalism.

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Despite the nations’ tournament being held in Europe. It was one of the few consistent international competitions. Rugby union was also played at the Summer Olympics. First at the games in Paris in 1900, then in London in 1908, Antwerp in 1920, and Paris again in 1924. France took the first gold medal, followed by Australasia. And the United States took the last two. On the other hand, the International Olympic Committee ruled that rugby union would not be an Olympic sport. The Rugby World Cup had been floated as early as the 1950s. But the IRFB made it clear that it did not want its member unions. To be involved in anything resembling a world championship.

When Was The Idea Resurfaced?

The idea resurfaced throughout the early 1980s. Before being dismissed at an IRFB meeting in 1983. The defining moment in creating such a tournament. It is thought to have occurred when the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU). They independently wrote to the IRFB seeking to host a Rugby World Cup tournament. The IRFB approved the inaugural cup in 1985. It was hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand in May and June of 1987. Despite strong opposition from the British and Irish delegations.


The Webb Ellis Cup is the prize awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup. It is named after William Webb Ellis. It is credited with inventing rugby football. The trophy is also known simply as The Rugby World Cup. The trophy was chosen as an appropriate cup for use in the competition in 1987. On the face of the cup.

Rugby World Cup

The words International Rugby Board and The Webb Ellis Cup are engraved. It stands 38 centimeters tall and is silver gilded in gold. Two cast scroll handles support it. One with a satyr’s head and the other with a nymph’s head. The trophy is known colloquially as “Bill,” referencing William Webb Ellis in Australia. The trophy is currently housed in the Rugby Museum in London.

The Choice of Hosts

Rugby World Cup Ltd organizes the tournaments voted on by the IRB member nations (RWCL). This determines which country(ies) will host the tournament. With the voting, the procedure is overseen by a team of independent auditors, and the results are kept secret. All of the previous tournaments have been held in countries. That is where rugby union is a popular sport.

This trend continued when New Zealand was awarded the 2011 event ahead of Japan. A traditionally weaker rugby union nation than New Zealand. The allocation of a tournament to a host nation is now made five or six years before the specific event. As New Zealand was awarded the 2011 event in late 2005.

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The allocation of a host(s) has been a contentious issue. Further with claims of deals being made between nations to gain votes. Some media outlets speculated in 2006 that the Unión Argentina de Rugby. It had only voted for New Zealand’s bid for 2011 in exchange for regular international competition. On the other hand, Argentina is the only one of the ten nations rated as “Tier 1”. By the IRB that does not regularly compete with other Tier 1 nations.

Performance of Nations

The Rugby World Cup has been attended by 23 countries (excluding qualifying tournaments). All but one of the five tournaments held have been won by a country from the Southern Hemisphere. The All Blacks won the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. Further followed by Australia in 1991, South Africa in 1995. And Australia again in 1999. The Southern Hemisphere’s dominance was broken in 2003. When England defeated Australia in the World Cup final.

Northern hemisphere teams’ accomplishments should not be overlooked. The only all-Southern final was in 1995 (South Africa and the All Blacks). England (1991) and France (1987 and 1999) finished runners-up in all other tournaments before the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Furthermore, the cumulative spread of nations in the third/fourth place playoff is the same in both hemispheres across all tournaments.


The 1987 tournament demonstrated the existence of a gap between the top nations and the (then) weaker sides. This was demonstrated by the All Blacks’ 74-point victory over Fiji. And France’s 13-try victory over Zimbabwe. The All Blacks scored the most points against a nation during a Rugby World Cup, 145. Against Japan in 1995, with Australia holding the widest margin, 142, against Namibia in 2003.

Jonah Lomu’s breakout performance in the 1995 tournament. It saw the New Zealander set several records. Further including the most overall tries in the final stages—15 in the 1995 to 99 tournaments. And the most tries in one competition, eight in 1999. Prominent New Zealand players hold several other records. Further including most points in one competition. Grant Fox with 126 in 1987. Most points in a match by a player. Simon Culhane with 45 in the record-breaking match. This match was against Japan in 1995. And most conversions in a match. Simon Culhane with 20 in the record-breaking match against Japan in 1995. Marc Ellis also set a record for most tries in a match in that game. Further scoring six. Sean Fitzpatrick of New Zealand holds the record for the most appearances by an individual. With 17 from 1987 to 1995. Gavin Hastings of Scotland holds the record for the most overall points accumulated in the final stages, 227 from 1987 to 1995.