List of Rugby World Cup finals
SportRugby union
Number of teams20
CountryInternational (World Rugby)
Holders South Africa (2023)
Most titles South Africa (4 titles)

The Rugby World Cup is an international rugby union competition established in 1987. It is contested by the men's national teams of the member unions of the sport's governing body, World Rugby, and takes place every four years. The winners of the first final were New Zealand, who beat France. South Africa are the latest winners, and most successful nation, having won four times including the most recent 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The Rugby World Cup final is the last match of the competition. The winning team is declared world champion and receives the Webb Ellis Cup.[1] If the score is a draw after 80 minutes of regular play, an additional 20-minute period of play, called extra time, is added. If the score remains tied, an additional 10 minutes of sudden-death extra time are played, with the first team to score points immediately declared the winner. If no team is able to break the tie during extra time, the winner is ultimately decided by a penalty shootout.[2] Two finals have gone to extra time: South Africa's victory against New Zealand in the 1995 final, and England's triumph against Australia in the 2003 final.[3]

Only five nations have ever made it into a Rugby World Cup final. South Africa is the most successful team in the history of the tournament, with four wins, followed by New Zealand with three wins. New Zealand and South Africa are the only teams to have won consecutive tournaments, with New Zealand winning in 2011 and 2015, and South Africa winning in 2019 and 2023, Springboks currently being the only team to have won every World cup final they were in. Australia have won the competition twice, while England have one win; they are the only nation from the Northern Hemisphere to have won the competition.[4] France are the only team to appear in a final without ever winning one, losing all three finals they have contested.[5] Note that South Africa, due to international sanctions, was not permitted to play in the 1987 and 1991 tournaments.


The first final of the Rugby World Cup was contested in June 1987, in Auckland, between New Zealand and France. The host team opened the scoring in the 14th minute, following a drop goal by fly-half Grant Fox. They extended their lead later in the first half when Michael Jones scored a try, which was converted by Fox. Losing 9–0 at half-time,[A] the French opened their scoring in the second half, through a penalty by Didier Camberabero. Following this, New Zealand controlled the match and tries from David Kirk, John Kirwan and the goal kicking of Fox extended their lead to 29–3. A try by Pierre Berbizier in the final minutes, which was converted by Camberabero, reduced the deficit to 29–9, as New Zealand won the tournament's inaugural final.[6]

As the hosts, England reached the final of the 1991 tournament at Twickenham, where they faced Australia. Fly-half Michael Lynagh opened the scoring for Australia with a penalty in the 27th minute. They extended their lead before half-time when prop Tony Daly scored a try, which was converted by Lynagh. England scored two penalties in the second half, courtesy of full-back Jonathan Webb, but a further penalty by Lynagh sealed Australia's victory at 12–6.[7] The tournament hosts reached the final again in 1995, as South Africa faced New Zealand in Johannesburg. Fly-half Andrew Mehrtens opened the scoring for New Zealand in the 6th minute after scoring a penalty. His opposite number, Joel Stransky, levelled the score five minutes later. The pair swapped successful penalty attempts before Stransky gave South Africa a 9–6 lead with a 32nd-minute drop goal just before half-time. New Zealand equalized in the 55th minute with a drop goal by Mehrtens, and as no further points were scored, the final went into extra time for the first time. Mehrtens converted a penalty to put New Zealand back the lead, but Stransky replied minutes later. With seven minutes to the end of extra time, Stransky scored a drop goal to secure a 15–12 victory for South Africa.[8] Nelson Mandela, the South African President, wearing a Springboks jersey, presented the Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar.[9]

Francois Trinh-Duc tackled by two New Zealand players
François Trinh-Duc tackled by New Zealand players during the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.

The 1999 final saw Australia face France at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Two tries by Owen Finegan and Ben Tune, and seven penalties by Matt Burke contributed to Australia's 35–12 win, as they became the first nation to win the Rugby World Cup twice.[10] Australia also became the first side to contest successive finals when they faced England in the 2003 final at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney. The hosts opened the scoring in the sixth minute through a Lote Tuqiri try. England responded and scored three penalties by fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and a try by winger Jason Robinson to achieve a 14–5 lead at half-time. Three penalties from Elton Flatley in the second half allowed Australia to level the score and send the final into extra time. Wilkinson and Flatley scored a penalty apiece before the former scored a drop goal in the last minute of the match to give England a 20–17 victory. They became the first side from the Northern hemisphere to win the tournament.[11]

England reached the final again in 2007, where they faced South Africa, who had won 36–0 when the two teams met during the pool stage.[12] South African full-back Percy Montgomery scored three penalties to Wilkinson's one to give South Africa a 9–3 lead at half-time. England had a try disallowed in the first minutes of the second half, when Mark Cueto was adjudged to be in touch before scoring. A penalty from Wilkinson and a further two penalties, one from Montgomery, and one from Steyn reduced the gap but did not prevent South Africa from winning 15–6 and secure their second World Cup victory.[13] The 2011 final pitted hosts New Zealand against France for the second time in the tournament, after their first encounter in the pool stage resulted in a 37–17 win for New Zealand.[14] The host team scored the first points of the match, with a try in the 15th minute through prop Tony Woodcock. Nine minutes later, New Zealand's third-choice fly-half Aaron Cruden went off injured and was replaced by Stephen Donald, who had only been called into the squad following injuries to first-choice fly-halves Dan Carter and Colin Slade.[15] Donald extended New Zealand's lead in the second half with a penalty; a minute later, French captain Thierry Dusautoir scored a try, which was converted by François Trinh-Duc to leave France one point behind New Zealand. Despite constant pressure from the French for the remainder of the final, they were unable to score more points and New Zealand won the match 8–7 to lift their second World Cup trophy.[16]

New Zealand reached the final again in 2015, where they faced Australia at Twickenham. Tries from Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ma'a Nonu and Beauden Barrett, along with four penalties, two conversions and one drop goal from fly-half Dan Carter produced a 34–17 win for New Zealand. With this victory, they became the first team to win the World Cup three times and the first holders to retain the trophy. It was also the first time that New Zealand won the competition outside of their country.[17] South Africa beat England 32–12 in the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup with Handré Pollard kicking 22 points to dominate the English. This was the first time the winning team had lost a match during and gone to win the competition; South Africa lost 23–13 against New Zealand in the pool stage.[18]


Match was won during extra time
List of final matches, and respective venues, finalists and scores
Year Winners Final score Runners-up Venue Location Attendance Ref(s)
1987  New Zealand 29–9  France Eden Park Auckland, New Zealand 48,035 [6]
1991  Australia 12–6  England Twickenham Stadium London, England 56,208 [7][19]
1995  South Africa 15–12[B]  New Zealand Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburg, South Africa 62,000 [20][21]
1999  Australia 35–12  France Millennium Stadium Cardiff, Wales 72,500 [10][22]
2003  England 20–17[C]  Australia Stadium Australia Sydney, Australia 82,957 [23]
2007  South Africa 15–6  England Stade de France Saint-Denis, France 80,430 [24]
2011  New Zealand 8–7  France Eden Park Auckland, New Zealand 61,079 [5]
2015  New Zealand 34–17  Australia Twickenham Stadium London, England 80,125 [25][26]
2019  South Africa 32–12  England Nissan Stadium Yokohama, Japan 70,103 [27]
2023  South Africa 12–11  New Zealand Stade de France Saint-Denis, France 80,065 [28]

Results by nation

List of total final results, and respective runners-up, years won and years runners-up
National team Wins Runners-up Total finals Years won Years runners-up
 South Africa 4 0 4 1995, 2007, 2019, 2023
 New Zealand 3 2 5 1987, 2011, 2015 1995, 2023
 Australia 2 2 4 1991, 1999 2003, 2015
 England 1 3 4 2003 1991, 2007, 2019
 France 0 3 3 1987, 1999, 2011

See also


A. ^ Prior to 1992, a try was worth four points.[29]

B. ^ Score was 9–9 after 80 minutes.

C. ^ Score was 14–14 after 80 minutes.


  1. ^ "A guide to the Webb Ellis Cup". World Rugby. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Tournament Rules". Rugby World Cup. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  3. ^ Woolford, Anthony (2019-09-09). "The tragedy of South Africa's 1995 World Cup-winning team". walesonline. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  4. ^ Linden, Julian (19 October 2015). "Southern hemisphere completes sweep of Rugby World Cup quarterfinals". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b Fordyce, Tom (23 October 2011). "New Zealand 8–7 France". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b "1987: Kiwis see off France in final". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b Seeckts, Richard (2 November 1991). "Wallabies claim their first World Cup". ESPN. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Great Sporting Moments: South Africa 15 New Zealand 12, World Cup Final, Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 24 June, 1995". The Independent. London. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  9. ^ Smith, David (8 December 2013). "Francois Pienaar: 'When the whistle blew, South Africa changed forever'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Australia ease to World Cup glory". ESPN. 6 November 1999. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  11. ^ Ingle, Sean; Mitchell, Kevin; Williams, Richard; Jones, Dan (28 October 2013). "Rugby World Cup 2003: How the Guardian covered England's victory". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  12. ^ Kitson, Robert (15 September 2007). "England hammered and humiliated". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (21 October 2007). "England lose the kicking game as dream dies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  14. ^ Standley, James (24 September 2011). "New Zealand 37–17 France". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  15. ^ "New Zealand hero Stephen Donald delights in 'unreal' World Cup journey". BBC Sport. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  16. ^ McMorran, Steve (23 October 2011). "New Zealand win Rugby World Cup". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  17. ^ Rees, Paul (31 October 2015). "New Zealand retain Rugby World Cup with ruthless display against Australia". The Observer. London. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  18. ^ Fordyce, Tom. "England 12-32 South Africa: Springboks win World Cup for record-equalling third time". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  19. ^ "1991: Wallabies pip England". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  20. ^ "1995: Party time for SA". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  21. ^ "South Africa 15–12 New Zealand". ESPN. Archived from the original on 24 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  22. ^ "1999: Aussies rule world again". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  23. ^ "England win Rugby World Cup". BBC Sport. 22 November 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  24. ^ Standley, James (20 February 2023). "Ireland 2023 Test schedule confirmed ahead of Rugby". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 7 September 2023. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  25. ^ Fordyce, Tom (31 October 2015). "New Zealand beat Australia to retain Rugby World Cup". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  26. ^ "New Zealand 34–17 Australia". Rugby World Cup. Archived from the original on 12 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  27. ^ Fordyce, Tom (2 November 2019). "England 12–32 South Africa: Springboks win World Cup for record-equalling third time". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  28. ^ Henson, Mike (28 October 2023). "New Zealand 11-12 South Africa: Springboks win record fourth Rugby World Cup in dramatic final". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  29. ^ Griffiths, John (1 February 2009). "First five-point try, England at Twickenham and the origins of a No.8". ESPN. Retrieved 11 January 2016.