Rugby World Cup winners, record, and other historic facts

The 2023 Rugby World Cup brings together the best teams in international rugby union and the tournament in France, which will be the 10th edition of the competition, begins on the evening of Friday 8th September with the hosts taking on New Zealand at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis. As has been the case in the last seven Rugby World Cups, 20 countries in total will fight for the Webb Ellis Cup trophy which is currently in the hands of South Africa who beat England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final in Japan. Read on in this article as we look at past winners, find out what happened in previous tournaments in France, flag up Rugby World Cup records and pick out interesting historical information for you to wow your rugby supporting friends with.

Rugby World Cup Winners Records

Past winners

The leading nations in terms of Rugby World Cup winners are New Zealand and South Africa who have both won the tournament on three separate occasions. New Zealand held the Webb Ellis Cup from 2011 – 2019 after winning the Rugby World Cups on home soil in 2011 and then retaining the trophy on the other side of the planet in England in 2015. For South Africa, their triumph in Yokohama four years ago followed up victories in 1995 as hosts and in 2007, the last time a Rugby World Cup took place in France.

With New Zealand and South Africa emerging as Rugby World Cup winners in six of the nine tournaments, the other three have been shared between Australia and England. The Wallabies were victorious twice during the nineties, winning the Rugby World Cup in England in 1991 and in Wales in 1999. After losing on home soil to Australia in the final in 1991, England exacted revenge with a final victory of their own over Australia and lifted the trophy for their first and still only time in 2003.

Rugby World Cup

Previous Rugby World Cups in France

Those fanatics who know their Rugby World Cup history, will know that this is the first Rugby World Cup to be hosted exclusively by France. Although some games were played here in 1991, as part of a five-nation hosting arrangement between England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and similarly in 1999, the 2007 tournament was played with the bulk of the games in France but also four matches in Cardiff and Edinburgh combined. When the Rugby World Cup History round comes up in the next pub quiz, the correct answer to the question: ‘When did France host all Rugby World Cup Games for the first time?’ is 2023!

With the majority of the 2007 Rugby World Cup played in France we can certainly look at that tournament for potential historical clues as to which countries thrive in the conditions on the European continent during September and October. The four semi-finalists were England, France, South Africa and Argentina the surprise fourth name on the list and it would be an incredible performance from the South Americans if they were to replicate going that far in 2023.

Previous winners Australia were dumped out at the Quarter Final stage by England 12-10 with New Zealand, Fiji and Scotland also packing their bags to travel home after defeats in the last eight. Argentina proved that there can always be surprises and we wait with interest to see who will make some rugby world cup history this time around!

Rugby World Cup Records

But what about the record breaking teams at a Rugby World Cup? As we all know, the greatest teams often dominate the records for streaks of victories and record margins but for every big win there is a big loser! Let’s take a look at which teams and individuals have made the headlines for incredible and also for not so spectacular reasons on their way to creating Rugby World Cup Records.

Rugby World Cup Records

Team Records

Most points scored in a game: New Zealand 145 v Japan, 1995

Widest winning margin: 142 – Australia v Namibia, 2003

Individual Records

Most points overall: Jonny Wilkinson, England, 277 points

Most points in one Rugby World Cup: Grant Fox, New Zealand, 126 points in the 1987 tournament

Most points in one match: Simon Culhane, New Zealand, 45 points v Japan, 1995

Most tries in one match: Marc Ellis, New Zealand, six points v Japan, 1995

Red Cards

25x players have been shown a red card in a Rugby World Cup fixture but, ahead of this year’s tournament, no player has been red carded on two or more occasions.

Rugby World Cup Newcomers

Amidst all the tries and cards, we should never forget that the purpose of a Rugby World Cup is to grow and celebrate the great sport in one big rugby festival. What started in 1987 has continued into a great competition and the next seven weeks of rugby will be unmissable. This time, Portugal return for only their second Rugby World Cup and Chile are welcomed into their first, becoming the 26th nation to do so.

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