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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 04:48 GMT 05:48 UK
World Cup history: 1995
!995 World Champs Australia
Jubilant Aussies celebrate yet another World Cup win
More than forty years after the first Rugby League World Cup took place, the organisers finally got it right in 1995.

Following the 1992 final, won by Mal Meninga's Australian side, it became clear that major changes had to be made to raise the tournament's profile.

The method of drawing the qualifying matches out over three or four years was evidently unsatisfactory - so the organisers decided to borrow an idea from their rival code.

Rugby Union had made a great success of a World Cup based on a similar idea to football's showpiece.

Unfashionable

This involved a host country, all games played over the course of a month and widening the game's appeal by inviting unfashionable nations to take part.
World Cup final 1995
Tim Brasher brushes past England

Rugby League, in fact, had run such tournaments - albeit with just four teams - prior to 1972 but then inexplicably ditched the idea.

In 1995 the game decided to celebrate its centenary by staging a ten-nation World Cup in England and Wales - the biggest World Cup yet.

Among the newcomers were three nations from the South Seas - Fiji, Tonga and Samoa - alongside South Africa.

In another attempt to spread awareness across the globe, a separate competition was held for emerging rugby nations such as Scotland, Ireland, USA, Moldova, Morocco and the Cook Islands, the eventual winners.

The whole tournament proved a roaring success from the moment England met Australia at Wembley and produced a celebrated 20-16 victory.

Many believed England could go on and win because the Australians were missing several key players due to domestic contractual disputes.

To the delight of home supporters, both England and Wales sauntered into the semi-finals where they would meet at Old Trafford, while Australia squared up to their antipodean neighbours New Zealand.

In the latter, a hugely tense encounter, Australia squeezed through, defeating New Zealand 30-20 but only after extra time.

In Manchester England dominated and raised home expectations of lifting the trophy by seeing off Wales 25-10. The stage was set.

Determined

Despite having a pack of big names languishing at home, Australia were determined that they would retain a trophy they had come to see as their own.

Led by Brad Fittler, they avenged that opening day defeat with an incredibly well-organised performance to overcome the English 16-8.

A final crowd of around 66,000 meant more than a quarter of a million people had passed through the turnstiles to watch the tournament.

On this basis, the decision was taken to expand the 2000 World Cup, adding six more teams to bring the total of competitors to 16, and to hold the competition in Europe once again.

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17 Oct 00 |  World Cup 2000
World Cup history: 1954-92
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