RWC 1999: Wallabies triumph again
AUCKLAND, 30 Aug. - The 1999 Rugby World Cup was the first since the start of the professional era in 1996.
That year also marked the start of the Tri Nations, giving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa an annual test of strength like their European counterparts.
RWC 1999 was expanded to 20 teams, from 16 in 1995. Uruguay, Spain and Namibia made their debut.
The group phase consisted of five groups of four teams. All group winners advanced to the quarter-finals and the five runners-up and the best third-placed team to the quarter-final play-offs.
The number of matches increased from 32 to 41 and for the first time the RWC would take more than a month to complete.
The competition was hosted by the Five Nations countries. Wales and England hosted the most matches (nine) while France provided the most host cities (five out 18).
Four World Cups
The centre-piece venue was the new 75,000-capacity Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which hosted, among other matches, the opening match and the final.
Canada's Gareth Rees became the first to play in four World Cups. He played in all of Canada’s 13 matches from 1987-1999, was captain in 1995 and 1999 and scored 120 RWC points, including a Canadian record 27 against Namibia in his last World Cup match.
Rees is still the youngest Canadian to play in a RWC at 19 years 328 days, and was successful with all 19 shots at goal in 1999.
Uruguay captain Diego Ormaechea crossed for his country’s first try in their 27-15 win over Spain on their RWC debut at Galashiels, Scotland. He was 40 years and 13 days and is still the oldest try scorer and player at a RWC.
Tonga full back Sateki Tu’ipulotu recorded the first full house in a European-based RWC when he scored 18 points - a try, two conversions, two penalty goals and a drop goal - in the 28-25 win over Italy. His 45m drop goal in injury time broke the deadlock and earned Tonga’s second victory in three RWC campaigns.
Ireland hooker Keith Wood scored four tries against USA in Dublin, equalling the record by a forward in a RWC match set by countryman Brian Robinson at the same ground eight years earlier against Zimbabwe.
Samoa led Argentina by 13 points at half-time in the pool match at Llanelli, Wales, but New Zealand-born coach Alex Wyllie worked wonders at the break to inspire the Pumas to a RWC record comeback, scoring 29 unanswered points to win 32-16.
The Tri Nations countries, plus Wales and France, were the group winners, with England, Ireland and Scotland consigned to the play-off round, vying for a place in the quarter-finals against Fiji, Argentina and Samoa respectively.
Argentina had qualified for this round despite finishing third in their group.
The group winners earned a week's rest, whereas some play-off teams were required to play three matches in eight days.
In the first of the quarter-final playoffs, four England players scored tries and Jonny Wilkinson booted 23 points in the 45-24 win over Fiji at Twickenham.
At Murrayfield, Scotland defeated Samoa 35-20, denying the Pacific Islanders a third successive quarter-final appearance.
Home fans silenced
In the final play-off match - they were all played on the same day - Argentina beat Ireland 28-24 in Lens to become the second nation from the Americas (following Canada in 1991) to reach the last eight in a RWC. Ireland missed out on the quarter-finals for the first time.
Two group winners faced each other in the first of the four quarter-finals.
Australia silenced the home crowd at the Millennium Stadium when they beat Wales 24-9, with scrum-half George Gregan scoring two tries.
At the Stade de France, South Africa beat England 44-21. Jannie de Beer scored 34 points and his five drop goals shattered the previous RWC record of two. He remains the only South African to register 30+ points in a RWC match.
At Lansdowne Road, Xavier Garbajosa and Philippe Bernat-Salles scored a pair of tries and Christophe Lamaison added 22 points as France beat Argentina 47-26.
In Edinburgh, New Zealand downed Scotland 30-18, with Tana Umaga scoring two of the All Blacks' four tries.
In the first semi-final, Australia and defending champions South Africa were locked at 21-21 after 80 minutes.
Neither team produced a try as Australia's Matt Burke and South Africa's Jannie de Beer staged a fierce kicking contest.
The only other player to appear on the scoresheet was Wallaby fly-half Stephen Larkham, who booted the game-winning drop goal after injuring the knee of his kicking leg earlier in the match.
For the second RWC in a row, a drop goal had contributed to the defeat of the defending champions in a knockout match.
In the second semi-final, New Zealand held the upper hand at half-time, leading France 17-10. A converted try from Jonah Lomu - his 15th and the last in his RWC career - in the 44th minute seemed to have booked their spot in the final to face Australia.
Lamaison, however, was not willing to concede his team’s RWC dream was over. The French scored 33 unanswered points in just 28 minutes to stun the All Blacks 43-31, Lamaison leading the way with 18 second-half points.
Record full house
Lamaison's 28 points was the highest full-house tally in RWC history. It was the most points New Zealand have conceded in a RWC match. The All Blacks went on to lose the third-place play-off to South Africa 22-18.
South Africa's Jannie de Beer remained benched for this match, keeping him on 97 points for the tournament to finish third behind Argentina's Gonzalo Quesada (102) and Australia's Matt Burke (101).
In the final in Cardiff, Australia defeated France 35-12 to collect the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time.
Burke contributed 25 points while Lamaison kicked four penalties for France.
Australia's total score and winning margin remain RWC records for a final, and the Wallabies remain the only country to win the RWC away from home twice and not concede a try in either final.
Captain John Eales and player of the tournament Tim Horan are the only players to be in the starting XV in two RWC finals and to win both.