New Zealand are one of the first teams that spring to mind when you think about rugby union. The All Blacks are the most successful team on the planet and they have consistently made their immense presence felt at the World Cup since it was inaugurated back in 1987.
New Zealand are 4/1 in the odds on Rugby World Cup to win the tournament that’s currently underway in France. That pits them behind Ireland, South Africa and France, and having already lost to Les Bleus in a pool game, the All Blacks don’t look like a safe bet to win the Webb Ellis Cup in Paris.
But given their rich history, it would be foolish to rule out a side like New Zealand that easily. They do, after all, hold the joint record for the most Webb Ellis Cup triumphs. That said, let’s look at some of the All Blacks’ best moments at the Rugby World Cup.
1987: Victory on home soil in the first-ever World Cup
The first Rugby World Cup was held in 1987, with New Zealand and Australia sharing hosting duties, and the All Blacks took full advantage of playing on home soil by winning the inaugural tournament. New Zealand only had to venture across the Tasman Sea once for their semi-final victory against Wales in Brisbane.
The final took place at Eden Park in Auckland, and it looked set to be a blockbuster rivalry between the All Blacks and the Wallabies — only for France to stun Australia in Sydney. Les Bleus couldn’t cause a similar upset against New Zealand, however, losing 29-9 in the showpiece.
2011: All Blacks end 24-year wait for second title
It’s hard to believe, given the stature of New Zealand in the world of rugby and how feared they are by almost everybody, that it took the All Blacks 24 years to win their second Webb Ellis Cup. But it wasn’t for the want of trying as they reached three semi-finals and one final in four of the five renewals between their two victories.
It was back on home soil that New Zealand finally ended their drought, and it was France who were once again on the receiving end at Eden Park. It was much closer this time, however, with the All Blacks edging Les Bleus by a single point in an 8-7 win in Auckland.
2015: First side to win back-to-back titles
The 2015 World Cup in England was a significant one because New Zealand broke a couple of noteworthy records. The All Blacks became the first team in the tournament’s history to both successfully defend the Webb Ellis Cup and win it for a third time — the latter has since been matched due to South Africa’s triumph in Japan four years ago.
Regardless of the outcome at Twickenham, we were going to see a side become the first three-time Rugby World Cup winners as New Zealand faced Australia in London. That gave the final an added edge, as if it was needed, when these two great nations clashed, and the All Blacks came out on top with a 34-17 victory.