Rugby World Cup history : The Wizards from Oz in 1999
Wallabies claim historic second title
Last Updated: 11/09/15 2:50pm
Australia become the first country to claim two World Cup titles as New Zealand once again fail to live up to their pre-tournament billing...
The fourth episode of the Rugby World Cup - and the first of the professional era - headed back to Europe, with the games split between principal hosts Wales, England, France, Scotland and Ireland.
There was a major overhaul of the tournament, with 20 teams taking part in five pools of four - with a play-off stage to reach the quarter-finals and more sides having to qualify.
Only defending champions South Africa, beaten finalists New Zealand and third-placed play-off winners France were granted automatic entry alongside hosts Wales.
Unsurprisingly Australia, England, Ireland and Scotland all made it through their pools - and all registered massive wins against the minnows.
They were joined by Italy, Argentina, Samoa, Fiji, Romania, the USA, Spain, Japan, Canada and Namibia. Uruguay and Tonga also earned their places in the competition through the repechage.
Tonga made the most of their chance by securing a shock win over the erratic Italians, with the Azzurri having gone from troubling England in qualifying to slumping to heavy defeats against Sir Clive Woodward's side and the All Blacks in the tournament.
There were few upsets in the early stages, although Wales once again came unstuck against their old nemesis Samoa - but they still did enough to secure a place in the last eight.
The teams that finished second and the best third-placed team were forced to go through the quarter-final play-offs - with England and Scotland seeing off Fiji and Samoa respectively, however Ireland were shocked by Argentina.
The three qualifiers, though, failed to make it any further - with the All Blacks edging out Scotland, Argentina succumbing to France and England's hopes extinguished by the boot of Jannie de Beer.
The Springbok fly-half landed two conversions, five penalties and a world record five drop goals at the Stade de France - with England having only trailed 16-12 at the break before de Beer kicked the life out of their challenge.
The other quarter-final saw Wales unsurprisingly brushed aside by the Wallabies, with the Australians facing a much tougher semi-final.
In an enthralling encounter, De Beer once again attempted to kick the Boks to victory with six penalties and another drop goal to take the game into extra time.
However a first-ever drop goal from Stephen Larkham and a penalty from Matt Burke, who had landed seven successful kicks in regular time, saw the Wallabies go through.
While the first semi-final was packed with action but bereft of tries, the clash between the All Blacks and France had everything.
In one of the greatest World Cup games ever played, Les Bleus bounced back from a Jonah Lomu-inspired 24-10 deficit to record a sensational 43-31 victory against the favourites.
Christophe Lamaison, who had only been added to the line-up after Thomas Castaignede picked up an injury, was at his imperious best as he weighed in with 28 points and had the back division playing beautifully.
The All Blacks could only muster a consolation try from Jeff Wilson in the dying minutes and were left wondering what could have been once again.
In true Gallic fashion, though, France could not match the same levels of brilliance in the final - mirroring their 1987 exploits.
Having done the hard work by toppling the All Blacks, the French seemed to lack the enthusiasm for the fight against the Wallabies, who bossed the game from the off without every really reaching top form.
Burke led the way with 25 points, with Ben Tune and Owen Finegan crossing for tries in the 35-12 victory.