Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup is rugby union's main event and is organized by the International Rugby Board (IRB), the sport's governing body. The tournament was first held in 1987 between Australia and New Zealand and, as with the soccer world cup, is contested every four years. The coveted Webb Ellis Cup is awarded to the winners and was aptly named after the pupil of Rugby School who is credited with inventing the game.
Rugby has grown a lot in stature since the advent of the Rugby World Cup and the tournament is the third largest international sporting competition in the world; after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. South Africa are the current world champions, beating England in France during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Rubgy World Cup History
Rugby Union has been contested internationally for generations, but it wasn't until 1985 that the IRB approved the inaugral cup. On an international level, the Home Nations - contested anually between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - was played between 1883 and 1909. When France joined in 1910 the Home Nations became the Five Nations. This tournament is still played annually today but is now known as the Six Nations, after Italy joined up in 2000.
Although the Rugby World Cup never came to fruition until the 1980s, many parties had tried unsuccessfully to lobby the IRB as far back as the 1950s. At the time, however, the IRFB weren't keen on the idea of a world championship. The Australian Rugby Union ARU resurfaced the idea in the early 1980s, along with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union NZRFU, and although there was much opposition, the IRB approved in 1985.
Australia and New Zealand hosted the 1987 World Cup between 16 teams and the All Blacks beat the French 29-9 in the final to become the first ever winners. England, along with the home nations, hosted the 1991 Rugby World Cup and subsequently lost 12-6 to the Aussies in the final. South Africa hosted and won the 1995 tournament. It was their first outing - previously being disallowed under the international sports boycott.
Wales and the home nations hosted the 1999 Rugby World Cup, to which the Aussies picked up their second world cup title by beating France in the final. The 2003 World Cup then moved onto Australia and was won by England 20-17, beating the Australians and making history by taking the crown away from the Southern Hempisphere for the first time. Jonny Wilkinson sealed victory with his drop goal in extra time.
Rugby World Cup 2007 was held in France, along with Wales and Scotland, while the 2011 World Cup will once again feature in New Zealand.
Rubgy Union Olympics
Rugby union was also played at the Olympic Games between 1900 and the 1920s. France won the first gold medal at the 1900 Paris games.
Rugby World Cup Tickets