The Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of international rugby, held every four years with teams from around the world competing for the coveted trophy. Since its inception in 1987, the tournament has witnessed some of the most memorable moments in sport and introduced us to some of the greatest rugby players of all time. As we look forward to the next Rugby World Cup, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reflect on past winners and unforgettable moments.
1987: New Zealand
The inaugural Rugby World Cup was held in 1987, hosted by New Zealand in front of a packed stadium. The home team came out on top, defeating France in the final. This victory marked the beginning of the All Blacks’ domination of the Rugby World Cup, as they went on to win the tournament three more times (2011, 2015, 2019).
Memorable moment: In the opening match of the tournament, the All Blacks faced Italy, and John Kirwan scored one of the greatest tries ever seen in rugby. Kirwan received the ball inside his own half and ran through the entire Italian team to score, showcasing his incredible speed and skill.
The 1991 Rugby World Cup was hosted by England and saw a new winner crowned. Australia defeated England in the final, thanks to the boot of Michael Lynagh and tries from Tony Daly and Phil Kearns. The Wallabies’ victory made them the first team to win the World Cup outside of their home country.
Memorable moment: In the quarter-finals, Samoa faced Wales in one of the most physical matches in Rugby World Cup history. Samoa upset the Welsh team 16-13 in a match that saw several players sent off.
1995: South Africa
The 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted by South Africa, was historic in more ways than one. It marked the return of South Africa to the international sporting stage following the end of apartheid. The tournament was won by the Springboks who defeated New Zealand in the final, thanks to a drop kick from Joel Stransky in extra time.
Memorable moment: The 1995 Rugby World Cup is perhaps best remembered for Nelson Mandela’s appearance at the final, wearing a Springbok jersey and bringing the rainbow nation together in a moment of unity.
The 1999 Rugby World Cup saw Australia win the tournament for the second time, defeating France in the final. The Wallabies’ victory was thanks in no small part to fly-half Stephen Larkham, who scored a try that is still talked about today.
Memorable moment: In the semi-final match against South Africa, Australia was trailing by two points with only seconds left on the clock. Stephen Larkham’s drop goal from an outrageous angle secured the win for the Wallabies, and is still regarded by many as the greatest moment in Rugby World Cup history.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup, hosted by Australia, saw England win the tournament for the first time. In the final, England faced Australia, and Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal in extra time secured the victory for the English.
Memorable moment: In the quarter-final match between All Blacks and Wallabies, Jonah Lomu scored two tries that showcased his incredible strength and speed.
The Rugby World Cup has provided us with some of the greatest moments in sport history. From John Kirwan’s incredible try to Jonah Lomu’s amazing speed, the tournament has always been a platform for showcasing the best of rugby. As we look forward to the next edition of the Rugby World Cup, we can only hope for more unforgettable moments and another deserving winner being crowned.