Saturday, 18 June 2011

History of Rugby World Cup.

In the early 80s two companies approached the IRFB. A British company named West Nally and IMG a trans-continental company with its base in the USA. Both of their proposals were rejected. Gideon Lloyd International and Neil Durden-Smith who were both involved in sports promotion and public relations in London also made a proposal but once again the idea was turned down in 1983.
The Rugby Unions were fighting a losing battle against professionalism at that time. At the same time a RWC was seen as a step in the wrong direction. The Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Football Union submitted written proposals to the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) in late 1983. 
1987 RWC
They were aware of the other's proposal with Australia wanting to stage a tournament to coincide with their Bicentenary in 1988 and New Zealand proposing the previous year. In March 1985 at the IRFB's annual meeting Sir Nicholas Shehadie talked to Seb Blaze in New Zealand and suggested they pool resources so that’s what they did, they worked together on a feasibility study for the first world cup. Their proposals were turned down.
In 1987 the two Unions settled,thereby avoiding any clash with the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, and a vote was held on the proposal at the IRFB meeting in the French capital Paris. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales voted as the IRFB members. It came down in favour of a Rugby World Cup by six votes to two. Selected for the world cup were Australia, England, France, New Zealand, Wales (after being persuaded by their treasurer) and South Africa even though they knew they would not be allowed to play in the tournament due to their political situation (apartheid regime). Ireland and Scotland were against the proposal.
Finally provided the vehicle to establish a 'world champion' and would be held in New Zealand with Australia as co-hosts. 16 teams were split into four pools of four, three of which were based in New Zealand with the other, featuring Australia, hosted in Sydney and Brisbane. Two nations in each pool would progress to the quarter finals. The hosts won the game easily 70-6 and one which went a long way to uniting a country divided by the Cavaliers' tour of South Africa in April 1986.
In semi finals New Zealand won against Wales after brushing Scotland aside, Wales went the same way and New Zealand were in the first World cup final. In other semi final Australia won. 600,000 people pass through the turnstiles with 300 million in 17 countries watching the action on television, figures that would increase to 1.75 million and three billion in 140 countries respectively for the 1999 event.
The Rugby World Cup is now established as the third biggest sporting event behind the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, having achieved its goal of merging the traditional powers with new and emerging nations to make Rugby a truly global sport.

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