In 1987, the first year of World Cup, the same teams played in the semifinals as will be playing in the 2011 semifinals - not against the same opponents, but the same teams. We take a trip down RWC memory lane...
In 1987 the semifinalists were New Zealand, France, Australia and Wales, and so they are again this year.
Then France played Australia and New Zealand played Wales.
This year France and Wales meet and then New Zealand and Australia to set up another North v South RWC Final, as all have been - bar the 1995 final.
France v Australia, 30-24
New Zealand v Wales, 49-3
There were 16 invited teams at the inaugural World Cup, played in New Zealand and Australia in May-June 1987. In the quarterfinals, Wales beat England, Australia beat Ireland, France beat Fiji and New Zealand beat Scotland.
Both semifinals were played in Australia. The oustanding match of the 1987 Rugby World Cup was the one between France and the pre-tournament favourites Australia. It was a great match won in the last minute by a dramatic try scored by Serge Blanco. It would certainly be a candidate for the best World Cup match so far. The match seemed headed for a draw when Didier Cambérabéro kicked a penalty to take the score to 24-all. The crowd was expecting extra time when France won a turnover near their 22, Cambérabéro kicked downfield, David Campese was negligent and Eric Champ got the ball for his side. Some 11 pairs of hands later Blanco eluded Tom Lawton and swept over in the left corner, kneeling arms aloft in triumph.
In the other semi New Zealand gave Wales the biggest hiding it had received up till then, this after Wales had had a good win over England in the quarters. After 25 minutes New Zealand were leading 24-0 and the final score is still a record for a World Cup semifinal. The Welsh cause was not helped when Huw Richards punched Gary Whetton and was sent off. In between the punch and the sending off Buck Shelford dropped Richards and Richards had to be revived to be told that he was being send off, and off he went on a stretcher. No action was taken against Shelford.
The extent of the New Zealand victory was remarkable as this was a talented Welsh side.
There were not big crowds for the matches by today's standards - 17,768 in Sydney and 22,576 in Brisbane.
(A try was worth four points at that World Cup)
France v Australia at Concorde Oval, Sydney on 13 June 1987
Tries: Campese, Codey
Cons: Lynagh 2
Pens: Lynagh 3
Tries: Lorieux, Sella, Lagisquet, Blanco
Con: Cambérabéro 4
Pen: Cambérabéro 2
France: Serge Blanco, Didier Cambérabéro, Philippe Sella, Denis Charvet, Patrice Lagisquet, Franck Mesnel, Pierre Berbizier, Laurent Rodriguez, Dominique Erbani, Eric Champ, Alain Lorieux, Jean Condom, Pascal Ondarts, Daniel Dubroca (captain), Jean-Pierre Garuet-Lempirou.
Australia: David Campese, Peter Grigg, Andrew Slack (captain), Brett Papworth, Matt Burke, Michael Lynagh. Nick Farr-Jones, Troy Coker, Simon Poidevin, Jeff Miller, Steve Cutler, Bill Campbell, Andy McIntyre, Tom Lawton, Cameron Lilicrap.
Replacements: Herbert for Papworth, Codey for Campbell.
Referee: Brian Anderson (Scotland)
New Zealand v Wales at Ballymore, Brisbane on 14 June 1987
For New Zealand:
Tries: Shelford 2, Kirwan 2, Drake, Alan Whetton, Stanley, Brooke-Cowden
Cons: Fox 7
New Zealand: John Gallagher, John Kirwan, Warwick Taylor, Joe Stanley, Craig Green, Grant Fox, David Kirk (captain), Buck Shelford, Alan Whetton, Mark Brooke-Cowden, Gary Whetton, Murray Pierce, Steven McDowell, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Drake.
Replacement: Bernie McCahill for Joe Stanley.
* Michael Jones did not play because the match was played on a Sunday.
Wales: Paul Thorburn, Ieuan Evans, John Devereux, Bleddyn Bowen, Adrian Hadley, Jonathan Davies, Robert Jones, Phil Davies, Richie Collins, Richard Moriarty, Huw Richards, Paul Moriarty, Anthony Buchanan, Kevin Phillips, Dai Young.
Replacement: Stave Sutton for Richie Collins.
Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia)
THE 'OTHER' RWC SEMIFINALS:
Australia scraped home against Ireland in the quarterfinal and then enjoyed some David Campese magic to defeat New Zealand.
Australia v New Zealand, 16-6
England v Scotland, 9-6
Both semifinals were remarkable.
The first one, between South Africa and France in rain-drenched Durban, nearly did not happen because of the water on the field. The one the next day at Newlands was over as a contest after four minutes when Jonah Lomu went on the rampage.
New Zealand v England, 45-29
South Africa v France, 19-15
Again both semifinals were remarkable.
It took a rare Stephen Larkham drop-goal in extra-time to set up an Australian victory while the second semifinal produced the biggest World Cup shock yet and a brilliant game of rugby. Down 24-10 and looking well beaten France suddenly started running and star performances by the Christophes - Dominci and Lamaison - and Olivier Magne contrived to run New Zealand ragged for a famous victory.
Australia v South Africa, 27-21
France v New Zealand, 43-31
Australia v New Zealand, 22-10
England v France, 24-7
France who had knocked New Zealand out in the quarterfinal, succumbed to England's power in the semifinal.
England v France, 14-9
South Africa v Argentina, 37-13
New Zealand v Australia
Wales v France
What will the story be this year?
Semifinalists over the years:
1987: Australia, France, New Zealand, Wales
1991: Australia, England, New Zealand, Scotland
1995: England, France, New Zealand, South Africa
1999: Australia, France, New Zealand, South Africa
2003: Australia, England, France, New Zealand
2007: Argentina, England, France, South Africa
2011: Australia, France, New Zealand, Wales
Number of semifinals:
6 - New Zealand, France
5 - Australia
4 - England
3 - South Africa
2 - Wales
1 - Scotland, Argentina
By Paul Dobson
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