Australia has by far the most players and a top notch pro competition so is known as the benchmark for the sport. That only really became established during the late 1970's and early 80's. Before then it was much more even.
1954 was Australia's worst WC, not even looking like making the final. It won well in 1957, before falling back to second in 1960. In '68 world beaters again, narrow winners in 1970 and narrow losers in 1972. After that it was a succession of victories apart from the odd close call and defeat to the Kiwis in 2008.
2017 started off with a conservative win over England, followed by two comfortable but somewhat uninspiring victories. After accounting for Samoa and Fiji without any fuss, the final arrived. It was a strong run without being breathtaking but it doesn't have to be, as long as the silverware is claimed at the end.
Final ranking for the tournament: 1st to 4th (out of 14 teams).
The chart shows the previous WC tournaments Australia has attended. The lower figure for each year is the points differential for the group stage only.
12th - 14th: Scotland, Wales, USA.
9th - 11th: France, Italy, Samoa.
5th - 8th: Ireland, Lebanon, New Zealand, PNG.
1st - 4th: Australia, England, Fiji, Tonga.