The Rugby World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. The last Rugby World Cup had a cumulative television audience of 4.2 billion people, while a total of 2.3 million people attended live matches.
There have been a total of six Rugby World Cups since the New Zealand All Blacks captured the first World Cup back in 1987. Australia and South Africa have been the most successful World Cup teams. Australia won in 1991 and 1999, while South Africa were crowned World Champions in 1995 and 2007. The only team to win a Rugby World Cup was England in 2003.
The major prize in the Rugby World Cup is the Webb Ellis Cup, or ‘Bill’ as it is sometimes referred to. Webb Ellis was the frustrated soccer player who one day picked up the ball in the process inventing the game of rugby union.
The Rugby World Cup is normally played in two phases. In the opening phase teams play preliminary matches against other teams in their pool (these pools are usually drawn at random). Each pool usually contains five teams, meaning each country plays four preliminary matches. The top two teams from each pool then move into the knockout phase.
Because of the nature of the tournament there are often some blow out scores in the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand have the biggest score in a World Cup match with 145 points, which they achieved in 1995 against Japan. The Aussies have the biggest winning margin from when they pummelled Namibia 142-0 in 2003.
The next Rugby World Cup will be held in New Zealand in September 2011. The 2015 World Cup will be held in England while in 2019 the World Cup moves to Asia for the first time when it is set to be held in Japan.