The IRB's Rugby World Cup (RWC) is now one of the world's top four sporting competitions, on a list headed by the Olympics and the World Cup of Soccer, it was first staged in New Zealand and Australia in 1987.
Subsequent tournaments were held in the United Kingdom and France, in 1991, and in South Africa, in 1995 and in Wales in 1999. Australia hosted the 2003 tournament. In the first three RWC's 16 teams contested the final rounds after qualifying matches involving all the other IRB member Unions over a two-year period.
In 1999 the fourth RWC was hosted by Wales with an expanded entry of 20 teams, qualifying through 133 matches worldwide from an original entry of 65 Unions.
Winners of the Cup were, New Zealand (1987), Australia (1991), South Africa (1995),Australia (1999) and England (2003). The RWC 1999 Final was played at the new Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on November 6 to conclude a 41-game, 18-venue tournament in Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and France. The semi-finals were staged in London with the quarter-finals in Cardiff, Paris, Edinburgh and Dublin.
The 1999 tournament attracted over 1.7 million spectators with a world wide television audience of over 3.1 billion. The gross commercial revenue was approximately Sterling £70 million.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup was orginally scheduled to be hosted by Australia with support from New Zealand. However, due to contractual problems, the tournament was hosted by Australia alone.
The 2007 was held in France after they beat England in the RWC host voting process.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup goes back 20 years to where it all started in New Zealand where Eden Park should become the first venue to host two Rugby World cup finals.
The 2015 Rugby World cup should then be held in the Northern Hemisphere.
The History of RWC.
What on earth did we do before the Rugby World Cup ? Everything we do these days seems to be in preparation for "The Next World Cup". How many times have you heard a coach say that "We are building for the next World Cup"? What did we play for before?
One hundred and sixteen (116) years after the first Test match, we had the first ever "Rugby World Cup". Essentially it was an Australasian iniative. The World Cup was supported from the start by France while South Africa came in later. Initially, the concept met with opposition in the heartland of rugby football which is the Home Unions (England, Scotland, Ireland & Wales) but even their resistance crumbled as the World Cup began to look increasingly enticing.
The main objection to the concept of a Rugby World Cup was that it would change the game and in particular that it would affect the amateur principle. The prediction was right.
Various men are regarded as the initiators of the Rugby World Cup. One of these men was Harold Tolhurst of Australia, a Wallaby who later became a test referee and it is said that he suggested a Rugby World Cup in the late fifties. In 1968, the International Rugby Board (IRB) forbade it's countries to get involved in an international tournament along the lines of the Soccer World Cup. Bill McLaughin president of the Australian Rugby Union in 1979 suggested a World Cup in 1988, the year of his country's bicentenary celebrations. In 1982, Neil Durden-Smith, an Englishman who had been the aide to the governor-general in New Zealand, suggested a Rugby World Cup to b played in the British Isles in 1985 or 1986.
The IRB discussed it in March 1983 and dismissed the idea. "The concept found no support" they reported. Among the objections was the fact that the IRB did not want such a tournament to be run by commercial operators.
New Zealand and Australia picked up the idea and ran with it. One of the men who ran with great enthusiasm in the idea was Nick Shehadie, a former Wallaby who became the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, OBE and the president of the Australian Rugby Union. At the same time, rugby entrepreneur David Lord was sending shudders through the rugby world by suggesting a professional game along the lines of Kerry Packer's cricket.
Australia & New Zealand each proposed a World Cup. At an emergency meeting in June 1983 Australia proposed a World Cup and put itself as host. New Zealand put forward it's case in March 1984. At that meeting The IRB instigated a World Cup feasibility study. This was a major breakthrough. Australia & New Zealand formed a joint working committee and the study began on the 1st of December 1984.
The IRB then met again in Paris on 20-21 March 1985, this meeting turned out to be crucial to the Rugby World Cup concept. The voting of the IRB members remains a secret, however it is not that big of a secret. It is & was no secret that England, Scotland, Ireland & Wales were opposed to the idea. Australia, New Zealand & France were in favour. Eight votes were needed to win & South Africa's vote was vital. With the full knowledge that politics would keep South Africa out of the event, Danie Craven & Fritz Eloff voted in favour. This meant that there was a stalemate, but then John Kendall-Carpenter of England broke ranks and voted for the World Cup, and then following this the Welsh vote also moved.
The Rugby World Cup was approved by 10 votes to 6. It would take place in Australia and New Zealand from the 22 May to the 20 June 1987. This gave the two host nations a little over two years to prepare.
The Rugby World Cup was born.