The first Rugby World Cup was played in 1987 with 16 teams competing at the tournament hosted by New Zealand and Australia. A further eight tournaments, held every four years, followed.

There have been four different winners following the 2019 World Cup played in Japan where South Africa won its third title – equal to New Zealand’s three but won in two tournaments less as they were not invited to the 1987 and 1891 tournaments due to their government’s policy. The other winners are Australia (2) and England.

The winners are awarded the Webb Ellis Cup, named after William Webb Ellis who, according to legend, ‘invented’ rugby by picking up the ball during a football game.

The tournament has now been expanded to accommodate 20 teams, playing in four sections on a league basis with play-offs between the top two sides from each of the four pools.

Qualification for the tournament has varied since 1987. The current format allows 12 of the 20 available positions to be filled by automatic qualification with the other eight places filled by region-based-qualification.

Rugby World up fixtures for the tournament are determined according to the teams testranking with the pool fixtures of course determining the result and standings. In August 2019 World Rugby announced that gender designations will no longer be used and that World Cups will be identified by their dates only, i.e. World Cup 2019, 2021 and so on.

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