This year’s rugby world cup was the eighth rugby union world cup in history; although it wasn’t the first time that the majority of matches took place on English soil. A handful of matches were also held in Wales. Taking place from 18th September, to 31st October, the tournament provided rugby fans with a wide range of thrills and spills!
2015 Rugby World Cup Qualifying
96 nations worked through the qualifying process to get to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with various different qualification routes available to interested teams. There were 20 slots open in total for teams wishing to compete in the tournament stages. 12 teams automatically qualified because of their high ranking positions (top three placed teams in each of 4 pools) in the previous (2011) Rugby World Cup. Another 8 qualifying positions were open through regional qualifying competitions; from Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. One final team was then picked through a Repechage qualification stage, made up of some of the highest ranking non-qualifiers from each region.
Participating Nations and the Pool Stages
20 teams competed in the tournament, with the first stage being divided into four pools. Each team was required to play 1 match against each other the other teams within their own pool, so that the results of each pool were decided on the outcome of ten games in total. The top two teams from each group made it through to the quarter final stages of the competition, as well as guaranteeing qualification for the 2019 World Cup, whereas the third place team got eliminated, but secured a position for the next world cup too.
- Pool A contained: Australia, England, Fiji, Uruguay and Wales.
- Pool B contained; Japan, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and the United States.
- Pool C contained; Argentina, Georgia, Namibia, New Zealand and Tonga.
- Pool D contained, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy and Romania.
In Pool A, Australia and Wales qualified, having won 4 and 3 of their games, respectively. Although England did not qualify for the next round, they were able to secure their position in the next World Cup. Australia managed to secure the most resounding win of the competition in their match against Uruguay, with a victory of 65-3.
In Pool B, South Africa and Scotland qualified, and Japan was the third team, securing their position in the next world cup. Although all three top teams won 3 games and lost 1, South Africa and Scotland went through on points difference.
In Pool C, New Zealand and Argentina made it through to the quarter-finals, having won 4 games and 3 games respectively. Georgia came third in the group and secured their place in the next world cup in 2019. New Zealand scored 19 points in their pool, which was the highest number of points across all of the pools.
In Pool D, Ireland and France made it through to the quarter finals, with Ireland winning all 4 of their games, and France winning 3. Italy came third, and therefore earned their position in the next Rugby World Cup.
The Road to the Final
In the knockout stages of the competition, the teams played just one match against their given opponents. The winner of this match was allowed to progress on to the next stage, whereas the losing team was knocked out of the competition. The losers in the semi-finals played once more for third place.
At the quarter-final stage, the winner of Pool A (Australia) faced the Runner-Up of Pool B (Scotland), the Winner of Pool B (South Africa) faced the Runner-Up of Pool A (Wales), the Winner of Pool C (New Zealand) played the Runner-Up of Pool D (France), and the Winner of Pool D (Ireland) played the Runner-Up of Pool C (Argentina).
In the quarter finals; South Africa beat Wales to go on to play New Zealand, who had beaten France; and Argentina beat Ireland to go on to face Australia, who had beaten Scotland in their quarter final. The final ended up being New Zealand versus Australia, whilst South Africa and Argentina went on to face each other in the Third Place playoff which South Africa won 24 – 13.
The final provided a thrilling climax to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as old foes Australia and New Zealand faced off against each other once more. Although New Zealand ended up winning the match with a score of 34 -17, the match was a brilliant spectacle for all spectators. With five tries in total between both teams, the match saw a new record for the highest number of tries in a Rugby World Cup Final.
Upon securing victory, New Zealand became the first team to successfully defend their World Cup title, having already won the World Cup in 2011. This was their third World Cup in total, however it was their first title to be won on foreign soil.
The Dream Team
At the end of the competition, a dream team was picked by the world cup sponsors, made up of those who they deemed to be the best performing players of the tournament. Their team can be seen here.
Organisers were pleased with the overall level of fan support for the tournament, with all games after the pool stages receiving over 70,000 fans each at the stadiums. Ticket figures show that 80,125 people attended the final at Twickenham. Viewing figures showed that an estimated 120 million people watched the match live on TV.