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The RUGBY WORLD CUP is a men's 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. New Zealand
New Zealand
are the current champions, having defeated Australia
Australia
in the final of the 2015 tournament in England
England
.

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

The tournament is administered by World Rugby
World Rugby
, 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. Japan
Japan
will host the next event in 2019 .

CONTENTS

* 1 Format

* 1.1 Qualification * 1.2 Tournament

* 2 History * 3 Trophy * 4 Selection of hosts

* 5 Tournament growth

* 5.1 Media coverage * 5.2 Attendance * 5.3 Revenue

* 6 Results

* 6.1 Tournaments * 6.2 Performance of nations * 6.3 Team records

* 7 Records and statistics * 8 See also

* 9 References

* 9.1 Printed sources * 9.2 Notes * 9.3 Citations

* 10 External links

FORMAT

QUALIFICATION

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 World Rugby) member nations, and the rest by invitation.

In 2003 and 2007, the qualifying format 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 current format allows for 12 of the 20 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 a total eight teams allocated for Europe, five for Oceania, three for the Americas, two for Africa, and one for Asia. The last place is determined by an intercontinental play-off.

TOURNAMENT

The 2015 tournament involved twenty nations competing over six weeks. There were two stages, a pool and a knockout. Nations were divided into four pools, A through to D, of five nations each. The teams were seeded before the start of the tournament, with the seedings taken from the World Rankings in December 2012. The four highest-ranked teams were drawn into pools A to D. The next four highest-ranked teams were then drawn into pools A to D, followed by the next four. The remaining positions in each pool were 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 World Rankings.

The winner and runner-up of each pool enter the knockout stage. The knockout 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 knockout 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.

HISTORY

Main article: History of the Rugby World Cup A scrum between Samoa (in blue) and Wales
Wales
(in red) during the 2011 World Cup

Prior to the Rugby World Cup, there was no truly global rugby union competition, but there were a number of other tournaments. One of the oldest is the annual Six Nations Championship
Six Nations Championship
, which started in 1883 as the Home Nations
Home Nations
Championship, a tournament between England
England
, Ireland
Ireland
, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales
Wales
. It expanded to the Five Nations in 1910, when France
France
joined the tournament. France
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.

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

The idea of a Rugby World Cup
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) in 1983, and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 1984 independently proposing the establishment of a world cup. A proposal was again put to the IRFB in 1985 and this time successfully passed 10–6. The delegates from Australia, France, New Zealand
New Zealand
and South Africa
South Africa
all voted for the proposal, and the delegates from Ireland
Ireland
and Scotland
Scotland
against; the English and Welsh delegates were split, with one from each country for and one against.

The inaugural tournament, jointly hosted by Australia
Australia
and New Zealand, was held in May and June 1987, with sixteen nations taking part. New Zealand
New Zealand
became the first ever champions, defeating France 29–9 in the final. The subsequent 1991 tournament was hosted by England, with matches played throughout Britain, Ireland
Ireland
and France. This tournament saw the introduction of a qualifying tournament; eight places were allocated to the quarter-finalists from 1987, and the remaining eight decided by a thirty-five nation qualifying tournament. Australia
Australia
won the second tournament, defeating England
England
12–6 in the final.

In 1992, eight years after their last official series, South Africa hosted New Zealand
New Zealand
in a one-off test match. The resumption of international rugby in South Africa
South Africa
came after the dismantling of the apartheid system, and was only done with permission of the African National Congress . With their return to test rugby, South Africa were selected to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup
1995 Rugby World Cup
. After upsetting Australia
Australia
in the opening match, South Africa
South Africa
continued to advance through the tournament until they met New Zealand
New Zealand
in the final. After a tense final that went into extra time , South Africa
South Africa
emerged 15–12 winners, with then President Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
, wearing a Springbok jersey , presenting the trophy to South Africa's captain, Francois Pienaar .

The tournament in 1999 was hosted by Wales
Wales
with matches also being held throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland
Ireland
and France. The tournament included a repechage system, alongside specific regional qualifying places, and an increase from sixteen to twenty participating nations. Australia
Australia
claimed their second title, defeating France
France
in the final.

The 2003 event was hosted by Australia, although it was originally intended to be held jointly with New Zealand. England
England
emerged as champions defeating Australia
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
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
Wales
and Scotland. South Africa
South Africa
claimed their second title by defeating defending champions England
England
15–6. The 2011 tournament was awarded to New Zealand
New Zealand
in November 2005, ahead of bids from Japan
Japan
and South Africa. The All Blacks reclaimed their place atop the rugby world with a narrow 8–7 win over France
France
in the 2011 final.

In the 2015 edition of tournament , hosted by England, New Zealand once again won the final, this time against established rivals, Australia. In doing so, they became the first team in World Cup history to win three titles, as well as the first to successfully defend a title. It was also New Zealand's first title victory on foreign soil.

TROPHY

Main article: Webb Ellis Cup
Webb Ellis Cup

The Webb Ellis Cup
Webb Ellis Cup
is the prize presented to winners of the Rugby World Cup, named after William Webb Ellis
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 trophy is restored after each game by fellow Royal Warrant holder Thomas Lyte . The words 'The International Rugby Football 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
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
Rugby World Cup
Ltd (RWCL), which is itself owned by World Rugby. The selection of host is decided by a vote of World Rugby
World Rugby
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
Australia
and New Zealand. World Rugby 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
Millennium Stadium
– purpose built for the 1999 tournament – and Eden Park
Eden Park
, upgraded for 2011. The first country outside of the traditional rugby nations of SANZAAR or the Six Nations to be awarded the hosting rights was Japan, who will host the 2019 tournament .

TOURNAMENT GROWTH

MEDIA COVERAGE

Organizers of the Rugby World Cup, as well as the Global Sports Impact, state that the Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
is the third largest sporting event in the World, behind only the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
and the Olympics
Olympics
, although other sources question whether this is accurate.

Reports emanating from World Rugby
World Rugby
and its business partners have frequently touted the tournament's media growth, with cumulative worldwide television audiences of 300 million for the inaugural 1987 tournament, 1.75 billion in 1991, 2.67 billion in 1995, 3 billion in 1999, 3.5 billion in 2003, and 4 billion in 2007. The 4 billion figure was widely dismissed as the global audience for television is estimated to be about 4.2 billion.

However, independent reviews have called into question the methodology of those growth estimates, pointing to factual inconsistencies. The event's supposed drawing power outside of a handful of rugby strongholds was also downplayed significantly, with an estimated 97 percent of the 33 million average audience produced by the 2007 final coming from Australasia
Australasia
, South Africa, the British Isles and France. Other sports have been accused of exaggerating their television reach over the years; such claims are not exclusive to the Rugby World Cup.

While the event's global popularity remains a matter of dispute, high interest in traditional rugby nations is well documented. The 2003 final, between Australia
Australia
and England, became the most watched rugby union match in the history of Australian television.

ATTENDANCE

See also: List of sports attendance figures

Attendance figures YEAR HOST(S) TOTAL ATTENDANCE MATCHES AVG ATTENDANCE % change in avg att. STADIUM CAPACITY Attendance as % of capacity

1987 Australia
Australia
, New Zealand
New Zealand
604,500 32 20,156 — 1,006,350 60%

1991 England
England
, Wales
Wales
, France
France
, Ireland
Ireland
, Scotland
Scotland
1,007,760 32 31,493 +56% 1,212,800 79%

1995 South Africa
South Africa
1,100,000 32 34,375 +9% 1,423,850 77%

1999 Wales
Wales
1,750,000 41 42,683 +24% 2,104,500 83%

2003 Australia
Australia
1,837,547 48 38,282 –10% 2,208,529 83%

2007 France
France
2,263,223 48 47,150 +23% 2,470,660 92%

2011 New Zealand
New Zealand
1,477,294 48 30,777 –35% 1,732,000 85%

2015 England
England
2,477,805 48 51,621 +68% 2,600,741 95%

REVENUE

Revenue for Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
tournaments SOURCE 1987 1991 1995 1999 2003 2007 2011 2015

GATE RECEIPTS (M £ ) -- -- 15 55 81 147 131 -

BROADCASTING (M £) -- -- 19 44 60 82 93 -

SPONSORSHIP (M £) -- -- 8 18 16 28 29 -

Notes:

* The host union keeps revenue from gate receipts. World Rugby, through RWCL, receive revenue from sources including broadcasting rights, sponsorship and tournament fees.

RESULTS

TOURNAMENTS

YEAR HOST(S)

FINAL

BRONZE FINAL

NUMBER OF TEAMS

WINNER SCORE RUNNER-UP 3RD PLACE SCORE 4TH PLACE

1987 Australia
Australia
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand
29–9

France
France
Wales
Wales
22–21

Australia
Australia
16

1991 England
England
France
France
Ireland
Ireland
Scotland
Scotland

Wales
Wales
Australia
Australia
12–6

England
England
New Zealand
New Zealand
13–6

Scotland
Scotland
16

1995 South Africa
South Africa

South Africa
South Africa
15–12 (aet ) New Zealand
New Zealand
France
France
19–9

England
England
16

1999 Wales
Wales

Australia
Australia
35–12

France
France
South Africa
South Africa
22–18

New Zealand
New Zealand
20

2003 Australia
Australia

England
England
20–17 (aet ) Australia
Australia
New Zealand
New Zealand
40–13

France
France
20

2007 France
France

South Africa
South Africa
15–6

England
England
Argentina 34–10

France
France
20

2011 New Zealand
New Zealand

New Zealand
New Zealand
8–7

France
France
Australia
Australia
21–18

Wales
Wales
20

2015 England
England

New Zealand
New Zealand
34–17

Australia
Australia
South Africa
South Africa
24–13

Argentina 20

2019 Japan
Japan
Future events Future events 20

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 eight 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
England
beat Australia
Australia
in the final.

Thus far the only nations to host and win a tournament are New Zealand (1987 and 2011) and South Africa
South Africa
(1995). The performance of other host nations includes England
England
(1991 final hosts) and Australia (2003 hosts) finishing runners-up. France
France
(2007 hosts) finished fourth, while Wales
Wales
(1999 hosts) failed to reach the semi-finals. Wales
Wales
became the first host nation to be eliminated at the pool stages in 1991, while, England
England
became the first solo host nation to be eliminated at the pool stages in 2015. Of the twenty-five nations that have ever participated in at least one tournament, twelve of them have never missed a tournament.

TEAM RECORDS

TEAM CHAMPIONS RUNNERS-UP THIRD FOURTH QUARTER-FINALS Top 8 Apps

NEW ZEALAND 3 (1987 , 2011 , 2015 ) 1 (1995 ) 2 (1991 , 2003 ) 1 (1999 ) 1 (2007 ) 8

AUSTRALIA 2 (1991 , 1999 ) 2 (2003 , 2015 ) 1 (2011 ) 1 (1987 ) 2 (1995 , 2007 ) 8

SOUTH AFRICA 2 (1995 , 2007 ) – 2 (1999 , 2015 ) – 2 (2003 , 2011 ) 6

ENGLAND 1 (2003 ) 2 (1991 , 2007 ) – 1 (1995 ) 3 (1987 , 1999 , 2011 ) 7

France
France
– 3 (1987 , 1999 , 2011 ) 1 (1995 ) 2 (2003 , 2007 ) 2 (1991 , 2015 ) 8

Wales
Wales
– – 1 (1987 ) 1 (2011 ) 3 (1999 , 2003 , 2015 ) 5

Argentina – – 1 (2007 ) 1 (2015 ) 2 (1999 , 2011 ) 4

Scotland
Scotland
– – – 1 (1991 ) 6 (details) 7

Ireland
Ireland
– – – – 6 (details) 6

Fiji – – – – 2 (1987 , 2007 ) 2

Samoa – – – – 2 (1991 , 1995 ) 2

Canada – – – – 1 (1991 ) 1

RECORDS AND STATISTICS

Gavin Hastings
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
, 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
New Zealand
holds the record for most points in one competition, with 126 in 1987; Jason Leonard of England
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
Japan
in 1995.

All Black Jonah Lomu
Jonah Lomu
is the youngest player to appear in a final – aged 20 years and 43 days at the 1995 Final. Lomu shares 2 records with South African Bryan Habana . Most tries in a tournament (8): Lomu in 1999 and Habana in 2007 and total world cup tournament tries, both scored 15. The record for most penalties in a match is 8, held by Matt Burke , Gonzalo Quesada , Gavin Hastings
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
England
in 1999 – an individual record for a single World Cup match.

The most points scored in a game is 145 — by the All Blacks against Japan
Japan
in 1995, while the widest winning margin is 142, held by Australia
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
New Zealand
in 1987. No player has been red carded more than once.

SEE ALSO

* Rugby union
Rugby union
portal

* Women\'s Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
* Rugby World Cup Sevens

REFERENCES

PRINTED SOURCES

* Collins, Tony (2008). "'The First Principle of Our Game': The rise and fall of amateurism: 1886–1995". In Ryan, Greg. The Changing Face of Rugby: The Union Game and Professionalism since 1995. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 1-84718-530-4 . * Davies, Gerald (2004). The History of the Rugby World Cup Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-86074-602-0 . * Farr-Jones, Nick , (2003). Story of the Rugby World Cup, Australian Post Corporation . ISBN 0-642-36811-2 . * Harding, Grant; Williams, David (2000). The Toughest of Them All: New Zealand
New Zealand
and South Africa: The Struggle for Rugby Supremacy. Auckland
Auckland
, New Zealand: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-029577-1 . * Martin, Gerard John (2005). The Game is not the Same – a History of Professional Rugby in New Zealand
New Zealand
(Thesis). Auckland
Auckland
University of Technology. * Peatey, Lance (2011). In Pursuit of Bill: A Complete History of the Rugby World Cup. New Holland Publishers. ISBN 978-1-74257-191-1 . * Phillpots, Kyle (2000). The Professionalisation of Rugby Union (Thesis). University of Warwick. * Williams, Peter (2002). "Battle Lines on Three Fronts: The RFU and the Lost War Against Professionalism". The International Journal of the History of Sport. Routledge. 19 (4): 114–136. doi :10.1080/714001793 .

NOTES

* ^ However an exhibition tournament did take place at the 1936 Games . Rugby will be reintroduced to the Olympics
Olympics
in 2016, but as men's and women's seven-a-side rugby ( Rugby Sevens
Rugby Sevens
). * ^ Against England
England
in 1984. * ^ Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales
Wales
are the nations that have never missed a tournament, playing in all seven thus far. South Africa has played in all five in the post-apartheid era.

CITATIONS

* ^ A B Peatey (2011) p. 59. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 34. * ^ A B "Doin' it the Hard Way". Rugby News. 38 (9). 2007. p. 26. * ^ A B "Doin' it the Hard Way". Rugby News. 38 (9). 2007. p. 27. * ^ "Rankings to determine RWC pools". BBC News. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2013. * ^ A B C "AB boost as World Cup seedings confirmed". stuff.co.nz. NZPA. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2013. * ^ "Caribbean kick off for RWC 2011 qualifying". irb.com. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2012. * ^ A B "Fixtures". World Rugby. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. * ^ A B C D "Tournament Rules". World Rugby. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2015. * ^ " 2015 Rugby World Cup
2015 Rugby World Cup
seedings take shape". tvnz.co.nz. AAP. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2014. * ^ "A brief history of the Six Nations rugby tournament". 6 Nations Rugby. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2007. * ^ A B "History of Rugby in the Olympics". World Rugby. 9 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015. * ^ Richards, Huw (26 July 2012). "Rugby and the Olympics". ESPN. Retrieved 13 April 2012. * ^ A B "The History of RWC". worldcupweb.com. Archived from the original on 14 April 2006. Retrieved 25 April 2006. * ^ A B Collins (2008), p. 13. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 31. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 42. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 77. * ^ A B Harding (2000), p. 137 * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 78. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 82. * ^ Peatey (2011) p. 87.