Rugby World Cup history

Sports | 17 Oct 2018 | By Sun International


The Rugby World Cup is arguably the biggest and most prestigious rugby union tournament that includes the top international men’s rugby teams. The tournament is contested every four years by a different member union.

The nomination procedure is relatively simple with a member union generally indicating their interest in hosting the World Cup. Once a selection of unions have indicated interest a vote is cast by the World Rugby Council members.

The idea of introducing a Rugby World Cup was initially opposed by various unions as far back as the 1950’s, but the idea resurfaced again in the early 1980’s when the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) independently proposed the establishment of a world cup in 1983 and 1984 respectively.

However, in 1985 the proposal was once again put to the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB, now World Rugby) and was successfully passed.

The first instance of the Rugby World Cup was held in 1987 with 16 nations taking part, with the tournament jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The winner of the tournament was awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup, which was named after the historical figure who according to legend created modern-day rugby after picking up the ball during a football match.

The fourth iteration of the Rugby World Cup held in 1999 was expanded to include twenty teams and has become the standard format for the tournament.

The current format allows for 12 of the 20 available slots to be automatically filled by the teams who finished in the top three of their respective pools at the previous tournament, while the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers, that include a total of eight teams allocated for Europe, five for Oceania, three for the Americas, two for Africa, and one for Asia while the last place is determined by an intercontinental play-off.

Thus far only four countries have claimed the trophy, with New Zealand having won three times, Australia and South Africa have both won twice and England has claimed the title once.

The Rugby World Cup’s attendance figures skyrocketed from 1987’s figures estimated at 604,500 to 2015’s figures of 2,5 million and with it the media coverage also experiences dramatic growth. As the Rugby World Cup enjoyed more coverage so too the amount of rugby betting on the tournament increased.

With the advent of the internet, online rugby betting also enjoyed widespread popularity with a number of exciting betting markets available to rugby punters.

Punters have the opportunity of betting on a number of eventualities in each game such as which team will score first, which team will score the first try as well as the half time/full time winner and the ever-popular handicap bets where rugby punters can still bet on a team even though they’re the clear underdogs. The handicap bet allows a certain amount of points to be added to an underdog’s final score to even the playing field or conversely points can be deducted from the favourite to win despite the reduction.

On top of that the outright bet offers great value if taken before the tournament kicks off as the odds will drift as the specified team either excels or falls short throughout the rugby tournament.

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