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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 04:48 GMT 05:48 UK
World Cup history: 1954-92
Australia celebrate their World Cup victory in 1970
Australia celebrate their World Cup victory in 1970
Since its inception in 1954 the Australians, unsurprisingly, have completely dominated the Rugby League World Cup.

Of the eleven times the competition has been held, in various forms and guises, the Kangaroos have taken the title on eight occasions, including the last five on the trot.

The only other nation to claim the trophy was Great Britain, though as a result of home nations being separated back in 1975, and once again in 1995, this will not be repeated.

The first World Cup took place, after several years of discussion and a number of false starts, in France.

Four nations competed: Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the hosts.

Somewhat surprisingly given recent results, Britain and France contested the final, with the former lifting the inaugural trophy.

Three years later the same teams competed in the second World Cup in Australia, though - not for the first time - the format was altered.

The competition took place on a league table basis and in front of their home crowd the Australians ran out winners.


In 1960, for the first time, England hosted the competition and the Lions harnessed that home support to wrestle the trophy back from Australia, finishing top of the league table.

Despite the success of these tournaments, no competition was held for another eight years.

France were responsible for the hiatus, withdrawing from the scheduled tournament in Australia in 1965 as a result of some terrible international results.

Three years later, however, it was back on and Australia, aided by New Zealand, hosted.

The league table system was amended once more to include a final, which Australia won, consigning the much-improved French to their second final defeat.

  Final Results
1954: GB 16-12 France
1957: Aus win league
1960: GB win league
1968: Aus 20-2 France
1970: Aus 12-7 GB
1972: GB 10-10 Aus*
1975: Aus win league
1977: Aus 13-12 GB
1988: Aus 25-12 NZ
1992: Aus 10-6 GB
* GB won on superior record

Given a new lease of life, it was now decided to hold the tournament every two years.

The Australians were reluctant to relinquish their grip on the title and though Great Britain survived unbeaten throughout the qualifying matches, they were beaten 12-7 by the holders.

Two years later France were hosts and Great Britain won the last of their three titles in unusual circumstances.

The final in Lyon ended with Britain and Australia all-square, but it was decided to award the title to the Lions by virtue of their superior record in the qualifiers.


It was the last time Great Britain took part for a while after the decision was made to split it into two teams, England and Wales, for the 1975 competition.

That was not the only change, however, as the organisers decided that the five teams should play in a league table on a home and away basis.

Australia won but the whole experiment was a flop.

In 1977 they reverted back to the old system, with Great Britain reinstated, though they were defeated 13-12 by the Kangaroos.

But the tinkering and uncertainty forced public interest to wane and the tournament was set aside for eight years - with real signs it may not re-appear.

With the sport having increasing global appeal, it was eventually disinterred in 1985 with yet another format and new sense of purpose.

The sides played each other home and away spread over a number of seasons, culminating in a final in 1988 when Australia proved too strong for New Zealand.
Mal Meninga
Big Mal: led Oz to success

The 1989 campaign was set up along similar lines, with the final being held at Wembley in 1992 - Mal Meninga's all-conquering Australians once again proving too strong for the Lions.

There was still something unsatisfactory about the tournament's structure and it was decided something new and radical was needed in 1995.

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17 Oct 00 |  World Cup 2000
World Cup history: 1995
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