1987 New Zealand

2010-10-25 20:42
All Black skipper David Kirk lifts the first World Cup trophy. (Getty)

1987 saw the birth of the world's greatest rugby tournament – the World Cup. Hosted by New Zealand and Australia, seven of the 16 places were automatically filled by the International Rugby Football Board members – New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France – with South Africa unable to compete because of the international sports boycott due to apartheid.

There was no qualification process to fill the remaining nine spots. Instead invitations were sent out to Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Canada, Romania, Tonga, Japan, Zimbabwe and the United States. This left Western Samoa controversially excluded, despite their better playing standard than some of the teams invited. The USSR  were to be invited but they refused the invitation on political grounds, allegedly due to the continued IRB membership of South Africa.

On the whole the tournament witnessed fairly one-sided matches, the seven IRB members proving too strong for the other teams. Half of the 24 matches across the four pools saw one team score 40 or more points. It is therefore no surprise that five of the seven highest-scoring Rugby World Cup matches were witnessed during this tournament, a statistic that is echoed in the ‘most points by an individual’ and ‘most tries by a team’ statistics.

Champions: New Zealand, who defeated France 29-9 at Eden Park in Auckland. The New Zealand team was captained by David Kirk, substituting for the injured Andy Dalton, and included such rugby greats as Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Grant Fox and Michael Jones.

Tournament Star
All Black Flyhalf Grant Fox, with 126 points

Notable moments
in 1986, shortly before the World Cup, the All Blacks undertook a “Cavalier” tour to the then banned South Africa. The Cavalier tour disrupted the All Blacks’ preparation for the Rugby World Cup, but the rebels were let off very lightly, being banned for just two tests. They were then blended uneasily with their temporary replacements, the ‘Baby Blacks’. More than half the team that played in the 1987 World Cup final were former Cavaliers. It seems the effects were short lived, as they went on to win the competition.

More notable moments during the tournament came from French legend Serge Blanco, who in the semi-final against Australia, ran in one of the most spectacular tries yet to be seen in international rugby. Passing scores of defenders, and flirting with the touchline, Blanco ran the try in after a series of passes made mainly by French forwards. Team mate Philippe Sella still rates this as the best tries he ever saw his team score.


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