In the fourth part of our series on rugby union, we continue our history of Rugby World Cups with a look at back-to-back victories for the mighty All-Blacks.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC) was held in New Zealand. It was to be the largest sporting ever held there. The number of spectators eclipsed anything seen before in the country.
New Zealand were pre-tournament favourites to lift the trophy for the first time since 1987. Other teams who were considered front runners were Australia, South Africa, England, France, Wales, Argentina, and Ireland. Unsurprisingly, it was these teams that made it to the quarter-finals, which was the first knockout round.
The final was contested by New Zealand and France. Before the final, New Zealand were favourites, as they went into the game unbeaten and the French had lost 2 pool games, including 1 to New Zealand. In the end, it was the closest RWC final of all time, as New Zealand won the match 8-7. Both teams got a single try, with Tony Woodcock touching down for New Zealand and Thierry Dusautoir for France. What decided the game, in the end, was a penalty from the boot of Stephen Donald.
In 2015, the RWC took place in England. The match between Japan and South Africa on the opening weekend, in which Japan scored the winning try in the final minute, is considered the biggest upset in the history of rugby. Hosts England were eliminated at the pool stage, after defeats to Wales and Australia.
This meant that this was the 1st time the sole host nation had failed to progress to the knockout stage and also the 1st RWC where no northern hemisphere nation made it past the quarter-finals.
The final was between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand emerged comfortable winners 34-17, thanks to tries from Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ma’a Nonu, and Beauden Barrett, as well as the reliable kicking boot of fly-half Dan Carter.