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After the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, and New Zealand's clear supremacy of the tournament, rolling through victories by wide margins to claim the trophy, everyone anticipated that these All Blacks would continue to win again and again, perhaps, as dominantly as the USA Men's basketball team winning the gold at the Olympics.
But instead, five World Cups passed before New Zealand claimed its second title at home in a narrow and dull final against perennial RWC losing finalist France 8-7.
In essence, although the All Blacks ruled world rugby from one RWC to another, some other nation would upset them in a RWC quarter or semi-final round, opening the door for other XVs to advance. These All Blacks' losses brought heartbreak to New Zealand fans, but generated worldwide excitement to the tournament that increased in attendance, media coverage, and revenue.
Results: Seven RWC Tournaments
Team !st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
New Zealand 2 1 2 1 6
South Africa 2 0 1 0 3 (The Boks missed the first two Cups.)
Australia 2 1 1 1 5
England 1 2 0 1 4
France 0 3 1 2 6
Wales 0 0 1 1 2
Argentina 0 0 1 0 1
Scotland 0 0 0 1 1
Parsing these results, it's noted that southern hemisphere nations won six out seven. England is the only Five/Six Nations team to win. France tied the All Blacks in total semi and final appearances but remain without a first place finish.
Ireland has never advanced into the semis in all seven tournaments
Jonah Lomu leads with 15 RWC tries and these came in 1995 and 1999 when New Zealand failed to win the trophy.
The 1995 RWC in South Africa welcomed the Springboks back into world rugby community with the cessation of apartheid. The inspired Boks beat favorite New Zealand in extra time in a dynamic final 15-12. One of sport's (and rugby's) great moments is Nelson Mandela awarding the trophy to Francois Piennear, the Bok's captain.
New Zealand's rout of Namibia 142-0 is the largest RWC win.
The USA History
1. 1987 vs Japan 21-18
2. 2003 vs Japan 39-26
3. 2011 vs Russia 13-6
Twenty-one games total.