At a time in 1983, when the Rugby Unions were facing a tough time against professionalism and were fighting a losing battle. It appeared that staging the Rugby World Cup would help in no way to tide over the crisis. However, around the same time, the Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union submitted separate written proposals. The International Rugby Football Board (IFRB) to hold a tournament in New Zealand in 1987 and in Australia in 1988 to coincide with their bicentenary. Although the IFRB turned down both the proposals, the two countries eventually came together. To pool their resources and began a feasibility study for the first world cup that they would present at the IFRB’s annual meeting in 1985.
Australia agreed to host the tournament in 1987 a year ahead of its bicentenary to avoid any clash with the FIFA and Olympic Games. The proposal went through voting (6 votes to 2) and accepted by the IFRB members Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France South Africa and England for holding the Rugby World Cup. Ireland and Scotland voted against the proposal fearing threat to the amateur status of the sport.
World Cup – 1987
Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the first World Cup in 1987 therefore, Sixteen teams took part. That included Fiji, Japan, Tonga, Romania, Canada, Italy, Zimbabwe, Argentina, and the United States, while South Africa got excluded for political reasons. The teams split into 4 groups with 3 groups based in New Zealand and the group. Australia belonged played the matches in Brisbane and Sydney. The All Blacks defeated France in the finals 29-9 at Eden Park to prove their supremacy in the sport. They played for 100 years. The first World Cup was a financial success as the 600,000 spectators watched the matches at the venues. And another 300 million watching it on television across 17 countries.
A Quadrennial event
Like the other major quadrennial sports events like the FIFA World Cup and Olympics, the Rugby World Cup to take place every four years. Since the first World Cup in 1987, to date, there have been 9 tournaments with the latest going on in Japan between September and November, and 20 nations are taking part in it. New Zealand has won the competition three times (1987, 2011 and 2015), and Australia and South Africa have both won it two times each in 1991/1999 and 1995/ 2007, respectively. England has won the tournament only once in 2003.
First time in Asia
The Tier-I rugby nations have dominated the sports and always played hosts to the World Cup at different times. But for the first time in 2019, the Rugby World Cup has broken the tradition as Japan is hosting the event as the first Asian country.
The opening match of the tournament was played in the Tokyo Stadium in Chofu, and the final will take place at the Yokohama International Stadium on 2nd November 2019.