1987 Rugby World Cup Semi Finals
The semi finals of the first ever rugby world cup were probably the most eventful matches of the entire tournament for entirely different reasons. New Zealand destroyed one of the most talented Welsh teams since the golden era of the 70’s, but the talents of Ieuan Evans and Jonathan Davies couldn’t stop the All Blacks from running out 49-6 winners. To add insult to injury, with only a couple of minutes left, a fight broke out. Welsh second row Huw Richards threw a punch at Gary Whetton and was in turn poleaxed by another Kiwi forward. The referee had to wait for him to come round before issuing a red card whilst he was carried off on a stretcher.
The other semi final between France and Australia will be remembered as one of the greatest games in Rugby World Cup history. Both sides fielded stars of the world game. Australia boasted Campese, Lynagh and Matt Burke, whilst the French included Sella, Blanco and Lagisquet.
Australia, favourites to win at home, led the game three times through tries by Campese and David Codey, whilst the metronomic boot of Michael Lynagh kept the scoreboard ticking over. France, however, kept striking back, with tries from Lorieux, Sella and the Bayonne express Patrick Lagisquet
With the game almost over, a Camberabero penalty levelled the scores at 24-24 and the crowd, thrilled by the game they had seen, settled back expecting extra time. The French, however had other ideas. With Australia pressing, they won a turn over just outside their 22. Lagisquet kicked long and Campese, let it bounce. This proved fatal as French back rower Eric Champ recovered the ball and the rest was pure French improvisation. The ball was flung wildly to the right, with exhausted players desperately trying to get back into position. Centre Denis Chavet made a half break and the ball was flung left, almost being intercepted by a desperate Australian lunge. Finally, the ball came to the great Serge Blanco, who outstripped the defence to score in the corner. France were in the final.
1987 Rugby World Cup Final
After the semis, the final was something of an anticlimax. New Zealand proved their status as by far the best team in the world, scoring three tries in a comfortable 29-9 win over France at Eden Park in Auckland. Despite their perennial status as favourites, their passionate fans still wait for the All Blacks to repeat this feat, something they will expect to achieve when the 2011 RWC returns to New Zealand.