Prior to the Rugby World Cup, there was no truly global rugby union competition. Rugby union was played at the Summer Olympic Games, first appearing at the 1900 Paris games and subsequently at London in 1908, Antwerp in 1920, and Paris again in 1924. France won the first gold medal, then Australasia, with the last two being won by the United States. However rugby union ceased to be on Olympic program after 1924.
The idea of a Rugby World Cup had been suggested on numerous occasions going back to the 1950s, but met with opposition from most unions. The idea resurfaced several times in the early 1980s, with both Australia and New Zealand proposing the establishment of a world cup. A proposal was eventually successfully in 1985 and passed 10–6. The delegates from Australia, France, New Zealand and South Africa all voted for the proposal, and the delegates from Ireland and Scotland against; the English and Welsh delegates were split, with one from each country for and one against.
The inaugural tournament, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, was held in May and June 1987, with sixteen nations taking part. New Zealand became the first ever champions, defeating France 29–9 in the final. The subsequent 1991 tournament was hosted by England, with matches played throughout Britain, Ireland and France. This tournament saw the introduction of a qualifying tournament; eight places were allocated to the quarter-finalists from 1987, and the remaining eight decided by a thirty-five nation qualifying tournament. Australia won the second tournament, defeating England 12–6 in the final.
In 1992, eight years after their last official series, South Africa hosted New Zealand in a one-off test match. The resumption of international rugby in the country came after the dismantling of the apartheid system. South Africa were selected to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The hosts continued to advance through the tournament until they met New Zealand in the final.
After a tense final that went into extra time, South Africa emerged 15–12 winners, with then President Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey, presenting the trophy to South Africa’s captain, Francois Pienaar.
The Ellis Rugby vintage International range was inspired by the history of the game and our collection includes England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Fiji, USA, Canada, Tonga and Samoa.