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. Also for the first time qualifying competitions were introduced as the number of entrants had increased from 16 nations four years before to a total of 33 countries, the eight quarter-finalists from 1987 qualified automatically with the remaining 25 countries having to qualify for the remaining eight spots. This however resulted in only one new side qualifying for the tournament, Western Samoa replacing Tonga. The same 16-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, 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 semi-finalist Wales 16–13 in Cardiff, resulting in the elimination of Wales
, who finished third in Pool 3, making it the first time that a host nation was knocked out of the competition in the pool stages. Also notable in pool play was that Canada
finished second in their pool to qualify for the quarter-finals 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 pool, both teams qualifying for the quarter-finals with easy victories in their other matches. Scotland beat Ireland to top their pool, again both teams qualifying. Read more...