Sunday, 6 August 2017

Rugby League World Cup : 1995

The 1995 WC was a celebration of 100 years of the code's existence. It was played over three weeks at the birthplace of the game, England and also in Wales. Ten nations joined the celebration, a record number. The only downside was the internal strife within the game in Australia. So that nation excluded certain players based on which team they played for back home. It was sad that petty politics should lead to that decision.

The tournament was divided into three groups, with England and Australia combined with Fiji and South Africa in Group One. Two would qualify for the semi-finals. Group Two pitted New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea against each other. Finally Group Three had France, Wales and Samoa together.

Group One: First up England prevailed over Australia against expectations, going on to take the group. The Kangaroos rallied and came through second. Fiji wasn't troubled by South Africa but for both it was the end of the tournament in the group of death.

Group Two: NZ got a scare from Tonga, a one point margin the difference. The Tonga and PNG couldn't be separated after 80 minutes and NZ played better to get past PNG. NZ were unconvincing but the group was the most even as it turned out, but with just one to progress, the Kiwis.

Group Three: This looked the closest group on paper, but didn't turn out quite that way. France couldn't match Wales, then got hammered by Samoa. A sad result for a proud RL nation. Wales then was too good for Samoa and were the qualifier.

Semi Finals: First up it looked like NZ was going to cause an upset over Australia but the latter rallied and got through unconvincingly. The Kangaroos gave up a 20-6 and but for a missed conversion by the Kiwis at the end of regular time they would have gone home. Extra time saw the Kiwis stumble and an unlike win slipped through their fingers. Then England did what was expected and got past Wales, but it was no push over.

Final: England was one up against the Aussies but the Kangaroos had a better goal differential so it was too hard to call. As it turned out, the game went the way of Australia - yet again - and a golden opportunity was lost for England, playing a side without some of its star players, The depth of the the Australian game means that they can still put up a top side regardless of who is excluded.

Summary: The tenth WC proved a huge success. 66,000 turned up at Wembley to watch the final. Attendances were good in England but a little less so in Wales. Ten contestants had proven RL must in future include more nations in the festival. Thankfully since then, it has been so.

The next in the series (2000) can be seen by clicking here.
The first in the series (1954) can be seen by clicking here.

Group1 Gr 2 Gr 3
1 ENG 6 +96
Semi F
ENG 20 FIJ 52 NZL 25 WAL 28

AUS 4 +142
AUS 30
AUS 16 RSA 6 TON 24 FRA 6

FIJ 2 -66
NZL 20

RSA 0 -172

AUS 86 ENG 46 TON 28 SAM 56

ENG 25
RSA 6 FIJ 0 PNG 28 FRA 10
2 NZL 4 +17
WAL 10

TON 1 -1

AUS 66 ENG 46 NZL 22 WAL 22

PNG 1 -16

AUS 16

3 WAL 4 +34

SAM 2 +34

FRA 0 -68

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