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Wed 23 Oct 2019 | 03:39

Rugby World Cup Semifinals - 1987-2019

Rugby World Cup Semifinals - 1987-2019
Wed 23 Oct 2019 | 03:39
Rugby World Cup Semifinals - 1987-2019

Semifinals have always been the cutting edge of Rugby World Cups. Win and it’s such a relief to be in the final. Lose and you are in the most unwanted match of the World Cup – the third-place playoff. We recall the semifinals from 1987 on.

Of eight years’ worth of semifinals, the first World Cup’s semifinals produced the most tries, fewest penalty goals and the fewest spectators.

That first World Cup, as is often the way with new rugby competitions, was comparatively low key, nothing like the glamour and enthusiasm of Japan 2019. In fact it was resented by some of the traditional home unions and, because of apartheid, South Africa was excluded.

Eight countries will have played in the 18 semifinal matches.

8 times: New Zealand
6 times: Australia, France
5 times: England, South Africa
3 times: Wales
Twice: Argentina
Once: Scotland


The match in Sydney was really dramatic, won by France when Serge Blanco raced over for a try in the left corner with little more than a minute to play. Didier Camberabero converted from touch.

In those far-off days a try was worth four points.

Where the Sydney semifinal was a thriller, the one in Brisbane was a one-sided affair.

France vs Australia, 30-24 at Concord Oval, Sydney
Tries 3-2; Penalty goals 2-3
Attendance 17 768
Referee: Brian Anderson (Scotland)

New Zealand vs Wales, 49-6 at Ballymore, Brisbane
Tries 8-1; Penalty goals 1-0
Attendance: 22 576
Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia)


The man who made the 1991 semifinals was, without a doubt, David Campese of Australia. He made a try for Tim Horan that was deliciously audacious and then ran one in himself when it seemed impossible.

England vs Scotland, 9-6 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Tries: none; Penalty goals 2-2 with a drop by Rob Andrews to win the match. Attendance 54 000
Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia)

Australia vs New Zealand, 16-6 at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Tries: 2-0; Penalty goals 2-2. Attendance: 54 000
Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland)


South Africa made its World Cup debut to the joy of the whole of President Nelson Mandela’s nation.

The Durban semifinal came close to being called off. The rain came down in torrents, the match was delayed and sweepers used brooms to push the water off the field. Eventually the match was played, the tensest of matches, in which one disputed try was awarded and a French attempt at scoring was denied and the denial disputed.

The Newlands match was different. England were Lomu-ed, as the massive, 20-year-old wing smashed England to smithereens, scoring four tries.

South Africa vs France, 19-15 at Kings Park, Durban
Tries: 1-0; Penalty goals: 4-5. Attendance: 49 773
Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales)

New Zealand vs England, 45-29 at Newlands
Tries: 6-4; Penalty goals 1-1; Drop goals 0-2. Attendance: 43,414
Referee: Stephen Hilditch (Ireland)


The France-New Zealand match was the surprise of the World Cup, an astonishing turnaround. After Jonah Lomu had scored a try early in the second half, New Zealand led 24-10. Half an hour later the score was 43-24 as momentum shifted wholly to France with Christophe Lamaison and Olivier Magne in the van.

South Africa had hammered England in Paris when Jannie de Beer dropped five goals. in the semifinal he kicked a late penalty goal to force the match into extra time and the moment of the match, when Stephen Larkham kicked a surprise dropped goal from far out near the right-hand touchline.

Australia vs South Africa, 27–21 at Twickenham, London
Tries: 0-0; Penalty goals: 8-6; Drop goals: 1-1. Attendance: 72 000
Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales)

France vs New Zealand, 43-31 at Twickenham, London
Tries: 4-3; Penalty goals: 3-4; Drop goals: 2-0. Attendance: 70 000
Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland)


They look like comfortable wins for Australia and England but it was kicking, not try-scoring that produced the big wins. Elton Flatley kicked five penalty goals for Australia and so did Jonny Wilkinson who added three dropped goals for England. Having Christophe Dominici and Serge Betsen sent to the sin bin did France’s cause no good at all.

Australia vs New Zealand, 22-10 at Stadium Australia, Sydney
Tries: 1-1; Penalty goals: 5-1. Attendance: 82 444
Referee: Chris White (England)

England vs France, 24-7 at Stadium Australia, Sydney
Tries: 0-1; Penalty goals: 5-0; Drop goals: 3-0. Attendance: 82,346
Referee: Paddy O’Brien (New Zealand)


Jonny Wilkinson and Lionel Beauxis each scored nine booted points and the difference was a try by Josh Lewsey. but in the other semifinal, South Africa’s scored four tries, two by Bryan Habana, for a comfortable victory.

England vs France, 14-9 at Stade de France, Paris
Tries: 1-0; Penalty goals: 2-3; Drop goals: 1-0. Attendance: 80 283
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

South Africa vs Argentina, 37-13 at Stade de France, Paris
Tries: 4-1; Penalty goals: 3-2. Attendance: 77 055
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)


There was just one try in each of the semifinals and also a sanctionary card in each one, most notably as red card for Sam Warburton, captain of Wales.

France vs Wales, 9-8 at Eden Park, Auckland
Tries: 0-1; Penalty goals: 3-1. Attendance: 58 630
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

New Zealand vs Australia, 20-6 at Eden Park, Auckland
Tries: 1-0; Penalty goals: 4-1; Drop goals: 1-1. Attendance: 60 087
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)


There is something that seems so right when the team scoring the tries wins.

New Zealand vs South Africa, 20-18 at Twickenham, London
Tries: 2-0; Penalty goals: 1-6; Drop goals 1-0. Attendance: 80 090
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)

Australia vs Argentina, 29-15 at Twickenham, London
Tries: 4-0; Penalty goals: 1-5; Attendance: 80 025
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)


England vs New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama City
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Wales vs South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama City
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)

PV: 849

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