|Rugby has a rich and long tradition. It was 1823 at the Rugby School in England when legend has it that William Webb Ellis picked up a soccer ball and ran with it. From that spontaneous begining rugby has grown into a major international sport played in more
than 135 countries and governed by the
International Rugby Board (IRB).|
The Rugby World Cup had a distinctly
antipodean genesis when in 1983 the Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union independently wrote to the IRB about a Rugby World Cup tournament.
In 1987 the inaugural Rugby World Cup
(RWC) was jointly staged in Australia and
New Zealand. Sixteen countries were invited to
participate and about 600,000 people attended
matches. Broadcasts went to 17 countries with
a global audience of about 300 million.
New Zealand won the inaugural cup, beating
the European champions France at Eden Park.
Four Rugby World Cups and sixteen years
later the RWC is the third most popular sporting
event, in terms of revenue and viewing
audience, surpassed only by the Olympics
and the Federation Internationale de
Football Association World Cup.