It’s the day of the eighth Rugby World Cup Final, and we know by 6 o’clock this evening that either New Zealand or Australia will become the first nation to lift the trophy for the third time.
Let’s have a look at the previous seven finals to get us in the mood ahead of kick-off – tell us below which was your favourite and why?
1987- New Zealand 29-9 France
The All Blacks won the first ever Rugby world cup on home soil, thrashing France in Auckland. Tries from Michael Jones, John Kirwan and captain David Kirk were supported by 12 points from Fly Half Grant Fox saw New Zealand win the inaugural World Cup. France had gone into the game on a high following a memorable victory over pre-tournament favourites Australia in Semi Final.
1991- England 6-12 Australia
The 1991 Rugby World Cup saw hosts England lose narrowly to Australia on home soil at Twickenham. England struggled to get going despite the home support, and Australia went into half time with a 9-0 lead thanks to a try from prop forward Tony Daly. England showed some fight in the second half with six points from England’s fullback Johnathon Webb, but Australia’s talismanic fly Half Michael Lynagh ensured that Australia would return home victorious.
1995- South Africa 15-12 New Zealand
South Africa claimed their first Rugby World Cup title with a dramatic narrow victory over New Zealand in Johannesburg. The controversy over their victory was unable to dampen the spirits of the Springboks, who defeated the All Blacks in extra time thanks to a drop goal from Joel Stransky. New Zealand had accused a local hotel of deliberate food poisoning ahead of the match, but nothing was going to take the victory away from a country which had spent decades rebuilding itself. The iconic image from this World Cup was Nelson Mandela handing the trophy to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar.
1999- Australia 35-12 France
The first ever Rugby World Cup final to be held in Wales was one to remember for the Wallabies, who defeated France comfortably thanks to an explosive final quarter. The hero of the game was Aussie Full-back Matt Burke, who kicked 25 points to see his side through to victory. Tries were hard to come by in this game, and it wasn’t until the final quarter when both Owen Finegan and Ben Tune went over for Australia. France had done brilliantly well to get to the final following an impressive comeback win against New Zealand, but they were powerless as Australia became the first nation to win the World Cup twice.
2003- Australia 17-20 England
The final was one of the sweetest victories in England Rugby history and arguably the best competition decider to watch for the neutral as well, both sides were equal throughout, with wingers Lote Tuqiri and Jason Robinson both going over in the first half for Australia and England respectively. The second half saw no tries, but penalties were exchanged between Jonny Wilkinson and Elton Flatley, which lead the game into extra time. With the game looking like it was heading to a drop goal shootout, it was Jonny Wilkinson who created one of the most historic victories in sporting history. His drop-goal 26 seconds from time saw England leave the southern hemisphere as World champions, exacting revenge from 1991 when the Aussies beat England in their own backyard.
2007- England 6-15 South Africa
South Africa had reasons to be confident heading into the 2007 final against England in Paris. In the group stages, they has dismantled England 36-0, but England had recovered to reach the final, beating Australia and France on route. South Africa outplayed England in the first half, and went in at the break 9-3 up. This final wasn’t without controversy, however, as Mark Cueto’s try was disallowed as the TMO Stuart Dickinson felt like his foot was out of play. If this try had been given and converted, England would have taken the lead and the final result could have been different. The victory went South Africa’s way thanks to the boot of Percy Montgomery, and South Africa won 15-6 to lift their second world cup.
2011- New Zealand 8-7 Australia
Many fans had accused the All Blacks of ‘choking’ in the previous five world cups, having not won since they lifted the trophy in 1987, but there was certainly no choking under the lights in Auckland this time. In the closest World Cup final in history, New Zealand clung on to their lead, which was given to them by Tony Woodcock’s try and Stephen Donald’s penalty in the first half. France were determined not to lose their third World Cup final but struggled to break through a relentless All Black defence. The match finished 8-7, and New Zealand joined their tri-nation counterparts in having won the World Cup twice.
2015- New Zealand v Australia
The script is yet to be written for the 8th Rugby World Cup final, but New Zealand are clear favourites to become the first time in history to retain the Webb Ellis trophy. It promises to be an incredible spectacle, and I’m sure you’re all looking forward to a fantastic game.