1987 Rugby World Cup

The 1987 Rugby World Cup was the first Rugby World Cup. New Zealand and Australia agreed to co-host the tournament. New Zealand hosted 21 matches (17 pool stage matches, two quarter-finals, the third-place play-off and the final) while Australia hosted 11 matches (seven pool matches, two quarter-finals and both semi-finals). The event was won by co-hosts New Zealand, who were the strong favourites and won all their matches comfortably. France were losing finalists and Wales came in third: Australia, having been second favourites, finished fourth after conceding crucial tries in the dying seconds of both the semi-final against France and the third-place play-off against Wales.

1987 Rugby World Cup
Tournament details
Host nations New Zealand
Dates22 May – 20 June (30 days)
No. of nations16
Final positions
Champions  New Zealand
Runner-up  France
Third place  Wales
Tournament statistics
Matches played32
Attendance478,449 (14,952 per match)
Top scorer(s) Grant Fox (126)
Most tries Craig Green
John Kirwan
(6 tries each)

Sixteen teams competed in the inaugural tournament. Seven of the 16 places were automatically filled by the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) members – New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France. South Africa was unable to compete because of the international sporting boycott due to apartheid. There was no qualification process to fill the remaining nine spots. Instead invitations were sent out to Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Canada, Romania, Tonga, Japan, Zimbabwe and the United States. This left Western Samoa controversially excluded, despite their better playing standard than some of the teams invited. The USSR were to be invited but they declined the invitation on political grounds, allegedly due to the continued IRFB membership of South Africa.[1]

The tournament witnessed a number of one-sided matches, with the seven traditional IRFB members proving too strong for the other teams. Half of the 24 matches across the four pools saw one team score 40 or more points. New Zealand defeated France 29–9 in the final at Eden Park in Auckland. The New Zealand team was captained by David Kirk and included such rugby greats as Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Grant Fox and Michael Jones. The tournament was seen as a major success and proved that the event was viable in the long term. It also led to many countries joining the International Rugby Football Board which in turn led the IRFB to become the true authority for the running of international rugby union.[citation needed]

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