1991 Rugby World Cup

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This article is about the men's Rugby World Cup held in 1991. For information about the Women's Rugby World Cup also held in 1991, see 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup.
1991 Rugby World Cup
Coupe du Monde 1991
Cwpan Rygbi'r Byd 1991
Corn Domhanda Rugbaí 1991
Cupa an t-Saoghail 1991
Rugby Warld Caup 1991
Tournament details
Host nations  England
Dates 3 October – 2 November 1991
No. of nations 16 (33 qualifying)
Final positions
Champions Gold medal blank.svg  Australia
Runner-up Silver medal blank.svg  England
Third-place Bronze medal blank.svg  New Zealand
Tournament statistics
Matches played 32
Top scorer(s) Ireland Ralph Keyes (68)
Most tries France Jean-Baptiste Lafond (6)
Australia David Campese (6)

The 1991 Rugby World Cup was the second edition of the Rugby World Cup, and was jointly hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France; at that time, the five European countries that participated in the Five Nations Championship making it the first Rugby World Cup to be staged in the northern hemisphere, with England as the host of the championship game. Following on from the success of the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, the 1991 World Cup received increased attention and was seen as a major global sporting event for the first time.[citation needed] Also for the first time qualifying competitions were introduced as the number of entrants had increased from sixteen nations four years before to a total of thirty-three countries, the eight quarter-finalists from 1987 qualified automatically with the remaining twenty-five countries having to qualify for the remaining eight spots. The same sixteen team pool/knock-out format was used with just minor changes to the points system.

The Pool stage of the tournament was nothing like four years earlier,[citation needed] with fewer one-sided matches and the early stages produced a major shock when Western Samoa, who were making their debut in the tournament, defeated 1987 semifinalist Wales 16-13 in Cardiff, resulting in the elimination of Wales, who finished third in Pool 3. Also notable in pool play was that Canada finished second in their group to qualify for the quarterfinals in what remains Canada's best performance in the Rugby World Cup. Fiji, as quarter-finalists four years ago, had expected to occupy that position, but after the upset loss to Canada and a hammering by France, they were to lose even their final match against the unfancied Romanian team. Earlier, the opening match had pitted the holders New Zealand against the hosts England: New Zealand overturned a narrow half-time deficit to win the match and the group; both teams qualifying for the quarter-finals with easy victories in their other matches. Scotland beat Ireland to top their group, again both teams qualifying.

In the quarter-finals, neither Canada nor Western Samoa proved a match for New Zealand or Scotland, respectively. Meanwhile, England knocked out 1987 finalist France in a bruising encounter. Australia, in what was seen as the match of the tournament,[citation needed] pipped Ireland 19-18 in a thrilling match at Lansdowne Road, with a last-gasp try from fly-half Michael Lynagh coming after the Irish took an unexpected 18-15 lead when loose-forward Hamilton sensationally outpaced speedy winger David Campese over half the length of the pitch for a try. The semi-finals produced two tight matches: England overcame their Scottish rivals 6-9, a late drop-goal deciding a tryless match in a torrential downpour at Murrayfield Stadium, and Australia defeated the defending world champions New Zealand 16-6 at Lansdowne Road.

The World Cup Final was played at Twickenham Stadium in London, and saw Australia triumph 12–6 against England, thanks to a first-half try from prop Tony Daly.


The following 16 teams, shown by region, qualified for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. Of the 16 teams, eight of those places were automatically filled by quarterfinalists from the 1987 World Cup and did not have to play any qualification matches. 25 nations competed in a qualification process designed to fill the remaining eight spots, bringing the total participation to 33 nations. In the event, there was only one change from the 1987 tournament, with Western Samoa appearing in place of Tonga.

Africa Americas Europe Oceania/Asia


City Stadium Capacity
England London Twickenham Stadium 75,000
Scotland Edinburgh Murrayfield Stadium 67,800
Wales Cardiff National Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park) 53,000
France Paris Parc des Princes 48,712
IRFU flag.svg Dublin Lansdowne Road 49,250
France Toulouse Stade Ernest-Wallon 19,000
France Villeneuve d'Ascq Stadium Lille-Metropole 18,185
France Béziers Stade de la Méditerranée 18,000
England Leicester Welford Road 16,815
France Brive Parc Municipal des Sports 16,000
France Grenoble Stade Lesdiguières 14,000
France Agen Stade Armandie 14,000
France Bayonne Stade Jean Dauger 13,500
England Gloucester Kingsholm 12,500
IRFU flag.svg Belfast Ravenhill 12,300
Wales Llanelli Stradey Park 10,800
Wales Pontypool Pontypool Park 8,800
Wales Pontypridd Sardis Road 7,200
England Otley Cross Green 5,000


Pools & Format[edit]

Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3 Pool 4

 New Zealand
 United States


 Western Samoa


As in the 1987 Rugby World Cup the 16 nations were divided into four pools of four nations, with each nation playing their other pool opponents once, every nation playing three times during the group stages. Nations were awarded 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for a loss, the top two nations of every pool advanced to the quarter finals. The runners-up of each pool faced the winners of a different pool in the quarter finals. The winners moved on to the semi finals, with the winners then moving onto the final, and the losers of the semi finals contesting a third/fourth place play off.

Points System

The points system that was used in the pool stage was which was changed from 1987 was as follows:

  • 3 points for a win
  • 2 points for a draw
  • 1 point for playing

A total of 32 matches (24 Pool Stage & 8 Knock-out) were played throughout the tournament over 30 days from Thursday 3 October 1991 to Saturday 2 November 1991.

Pool stage[edit]

Pool 1[edit]

Team P W D L PF PA Pts
 New Zealand 3 3 0 0 95 39 9
 England 3 2 0 1 85 33 7
 Italy 3 1 0 2 57 76 5
 United States 3 0 0 3 24 113 3
3 October 1991
England  12–18  New Zealand
Pen: Webb (3)
Drop: Andrew
Tries: Jones
Con: Fox
Pen: Fox (4)

5 October 1991
Italy  30–9  United States
Tries: Barba, Francescato, Vaccari, Gaetaniello
Con: Dominguez (4)
Pen: Dominguez (2)
Tries: Swords
Con: Williams
Pen: Williams
Cross Green, Otley
Referee: Owen Doyle (Ireland)

8 October 1991
New Zealand  46–6  United States
Tries: Wright (3), Earl, Purvis, Timu, Tuigamala, Innes
Con: Preston (4)
Pen: Preston (2)
Pen: Williams (2)

8 October 1991
England  36–6  Italy
Tries: Guscott (2), Underwood, Webb
Con: Webb (4)
Pen: Webb (4)
Tries: Cuttitta
Con: Dominguez

11 October 1991
England  37–9  United States
Tries: Underwood (2), Carling, Skinner, Heslop
Con: Hodgkinson (4)
Pen: Hodgkinson (3)
Tries: Nelson
Con: Williams
Pen: Williams

13 October 1991
Italy  21–31  New Zealand
Tries: Cuttitta, Bonomi
Con: Dominguez (2)
Pen: Dominguez (3)
Tries: Brooke, Innes, Tuigamala, Hewett
Con: Fox (3)
Pen: Fox (3)

Pool 2[edit]

Team P W D L PF PA Pts
 Scotland 3 3 0 0 122 36 9
 Ireland 3 2 0 1 102 51 7
 Japan 3 1 0 2 77 87 5
 Zimbabwe 3 0 0 3 31 158 3
5 October 1991
Scotland  47–9  Japan
Tries: S. Hastings, Stanger, Chalmers, White, Penalty Try, Tukalo, G. Hastings
Con: G. Hastings (5)
Pen: G. Hastings (2), Chalmers
Tries: Hosokawa
Con: Hosokawa
Drop: Hosokawa

6 October 1991
Ireland  55–11  Zimbabwe
Tries: Robinson (4), Popplewell (2), Geoghegan, Curtis
Con: Keyes (4)
Pen: Keyes (5)
Report Tries: Dawson, Schultz
Pen: Ferreira

9 October 1991
Ireland  32–16  Japan
Tries: Mannion (2), O’Hara, Staples
Con: Keyes (2)
Pen: Keyes (4)
Report Tries: Hayashi, Kajihara, Yoshida
Con: Hosokawa (2)

9 October 1991
Scotland  51–12  Zimbabwe
Tries: Tukalo (3), Turnbull, S. Hastings, Stanger, Weir, White
Con: Dods (5)
Pen: Dods (2)
Drop: Wylie
Tries: Garvey (2)
Con: Currin (2)

12 October 1991
Scotland  24–15  Ireland
Tries: Shiel, Armstrong
Con: G. Hastings (2)
Pen: G. Hastings (3)
Drop: Chalmers
Report Pen: Keyes (4)
Drop: Keyes
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Referee: Fred Howard (England)

14 October 1991
Japan  52–8  Zimbabwe
Tries: Yoshida (2), Mashuho (2), Kutsuki (2), Horikoshi, Luaiufi, Matsuo
Con: Hosokawa (2)
Pen: Hosokawa (4)
Tries: Tsimba, Nguruve

Pool 3[edit]

Team P W D L PF PA Pts
 Australia 3 3 0 0 79 25 9
 Western Samoa 3 2 0 1 54 34 7
 Wales 3 1 0 2 32 61 5
 Argentina 3 0 0 3 38 83 3
4 October 1991
Argentina  19–32  Australia
Tries: Terán (2)
Con: del Castillo
Pen: del Castillo
Drop: Arbizu (2)
Tries: Campese (2), Horan (2), Kearns
Con: Lynagh (3)
Pen: Lynagh (2)

6 October 1991
Wales  13–16  Western Samoa
Tries: Emyr, Evans
Con: Ring
Pen: Ring
Report Tries: Vaega, Vaifale
Con: Vaea
Pen: Vaea (2)

9 October 1991
Australia  9–3  Western Samoa
Pen: Lynagh (3) Pen: Vaea

9 October 1991
Wales  16–7  Argentina
Tries: Arnold
Pen: Ring (3), Rayer
Tries: Simon
Pen: del Castillo

12 October 1991
Wales  3–38  Australia
Pen: Ring Tries: Roebuck (2), Slattery, Campese, Horan, Lynagh
Con: Lynagh (4)
Pen: Lynagh (2)

13 October 1991
Argentina  12–35  Western Samoa
Tries: Terán
Con: Arbizu
Pen: Laborde, Arbizu
Tries: Tagaola (2), Lima (2), Bunce, Bachop
Con: Vaea (4)
Pen: Vaea

Pool 4[edit]

Team P W D L PF PA Pts
 France 3 3 0 0 82 25 9
 Canada 3 2 0 1 45 33 7
 Romania 3 1 0 2 31 64 5
 Fiji 3 0 0 3 27 63 3
4 October 1991
France  30–3  Romania
Tries: Roumat, Lafond, Penalty Try, Saint-André
Con: Camberabero
Pen: Camberabero (4)
Pen: Nichitean

5 October 1991
Canada  13–3  Fiji
Tries: Stewart
Pen: Rees (3)
Drop: Serevi

8 October 1991
France  33–9  Fiji
Tries: Lafond (3), Sella (2), Camberabero
Con: Camberabero (3)
Pen: Camberabero
Tries: Naruma
Con: Koroduadua
Pen: Koroduadua

9 October 1991
Canada  19–11  Romania
Tries: McKinnon, Ennis
Con: Mark Wyatt
Pen: Wyatt (2)
Drop: Rees
Tries: Lungu, Sasu
Pen: Nichitean

12 October 1991
Fiji  15–17  Romania
Pen: Turuva (2)
Drop: Rabaka (2), Turuva
Tries: Ion, Dumitras, Sasu
Con: Racean
Pen: Nichitean
Parc Municipal des Sports, Brive
Referee: Owen Doyle (Ireland)

13 October 1991
France  19–13  Canada
Tries: Lafond, Saint-André
Con: Camberabero
Pen: Lacroix (2), Camberabero
Tries: Wyatt
Pen: Wyatt, Rees
Drop: Rees

Knock-out stage[edit]

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
19 October – Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh        
  Scotland  28
26 October – Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
  Western Samoa  6  
  Scotland  6
19 October – Parc des Princes, Paris
      England  9  
  France  10
2 November – Twickenham Stadium, London
  England  19  
  England  6
20 October – Stadium Lille-Metropole, Villeneuve d'Ascq    
    Australia  12
  New Zealand  29
27 October – Lansdowne Road, Dublin
  Canada  13  
  New Zealand  6 Third place
20 October – Lansdowne Road, Dublin
      Australia  16   30 October – National Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park), Cardiff
  Australia  19
  Scotland  6
  Ireland  18  
  New Zealand  13


19 October 1991
France  10–19  England
Tries: Lafond
Pen: Lacroix (2)
Report Tries: Underwood, Carling
Con: Webb
Pen: Webb (3)

19 October 1991
Scotland  28–6  Western Samoa
Tries: Jeffrey (2), Stanger
Con: Hastings (2)
Pen: Hastings (4)
Pen: Vaea
Drop goals: Bachop

20 October 1991
Ireland  18–19  Australia
Tries: Hamilton
Con: Keyes
Pen: Keyes (3)
Drop: Keyes
Report Tries: Campese (2), Lynagh
Con: Lynagh (2)
Pen: Lynagh

20 October 1991
Canada  13–29  New Zealand
Tries: Tynan, Charron
Con: Rees
Pen: Wyatt
Tries: Timu (2), McCahill, Brooke, Kirwan
Con: Fox (3)
Pen: Fox


26 October 1991
Scotland  6–9  England
Pen: G. Hastings (2) Pen: Webb (2)
Drop: Andrew

27 October 1991
Australia  16–6  New Zealand
Tries: Campese, Horan
Con: Lynagh
Pen: Lynagh (2)
Pen: Fox (2)

Third-place play-off[edit]

30 October 1991
New Zealand  13–6  Scotland
Tries: Little
Pen: Preston (3)
Pen: G. Hastings (2)


2 November 1991
Australia  12–6  England
Tries: Daly
Con: Lynagh
Pen: Lynagh (2)
Report Pen: Webb (2)


The event was broadcast in the United Kingdom by ITV who took over the rights from the BBC.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
1987 Rugby
World Cup
Rugby World Cup
Succeeded by
1995 Rugby
World Cup