The 2019 Rugby World Cup commences on September 20th and it will be the first time that the tournament has been held in Asia, with Japan the hosts this year. Looking at Rugby World Cup odds from Betfair, it’s the holders New Zealand that are outright favourites; while Russia are making only their second appearance, having previously qualified in 2011, where they only made the pool stage. Before this year’s tournament gets underway, let’s take a look at the history books to the Rugby World Cup stats and facts worth knowing.
Defending champions, New Zealand have lifted the Web Ellis Cup on three occasions – and are the only country to successfully defend their title, having won back-to-back World Cup finals in 2011 and 2015. They will continue to make history should they be victorious this year and win the trophy for a third consecutive time.
New Zealand’s first win came at the inaugural World Cup of 1987, where they were joint-hosts with Australia. France were the opponents of the final, which was played at Eden Park, Auckland and the Kiwis were victorious 29-9 – scoring three tries and one conversion; four penalties; and one drop goal.
The 2011 final was a repeat of 1987, with New Zealand and France once again meeting at Eden Park. The re-match was a much tighter affair, with the Kiwis winning 8-7 – not only the slimmest margin in all World Cup finals, but it is also the final with the fewest points scored.
The most recent final (2015) was contested between New Zealand and rivals, Australia at Twickenham. New Zealand were winners and defended their title with a score-line of 34-17. The match saw a new record for tries in a final, with a total of five tries scored and it was also the first time the Kiwis lifted the Web Ellis Cup on foreign soil.
Most runner-up finishes
Forever the bridesmaid and never the bride – France have been runners-up in the Rugby World Cup on three occasions.
Two of which have already been mentioned – 1987 and 2011, when they lost to New Zealand in Auckland on both instances. Their third runner-up finish came in 1999, when they lost to Australia at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Australia won 35-12, having scored two tries (converting both) and seven penalties; as opposed to France’s four penalties.
Most points (in a single match)
Of course, the reigning champions hold this record too. New Zealand scored 145 points during their match against Japan at the 1995 World Cup – the most scored in a single game ever. With six tries scored by Marc Ellis and 20 conversions from Simon Culhane, they beat this year’s hosts 145-17 and also held the record for the biggest margin, until 2003.
Australia lay claim to that record and have also scored the second-highest number of points in a single game. Their match against Namibia at the 2003 World Cup finished 142-0 – not just the biggest points margin, but the biggest win without reply.
Fewest points (in a single match)
Nine countries are members of the zero club, in that they have failed scored a single point in a single match. Surprisingly, England are the best-ranked team to manage the feat, having lost to South Africa 36-0 at the 2007 World Cup.
Poor old Namibia are the country with the most nil points records – in addition to their 142-0 hammering at the hands of Australia in 2003, they returned in 2007 and lost to Georgia by a slightly more respectable 30-0. More recently, at the 2011 World Cup, they failed to score past South Africa and were on the end of an 87-0 defeat.
Most tries (in a single match)
We return to the 2003 World Cup clash between Australia and Namibia, where an incredible 22 tries were scored. The Wallabies ran riot on home soil, with Chris Latham, Lote Tuqiri and Matt Giteau all scoring hat-tricks, while Latham finished the match with five tries.