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In fact, yes, Japan were champions. Wales lost the title to England in their first World Cup warm-up match, but then beat the English the following week to reclaim the title. Wales then lost both of their remaining warm-ups to Ireland, who thus took the title into the World Cup. Japan then took it with victory over Ireland (it was the second time Japan had held the title - the first being in 2013). They lost to South Africa in the quarter-finals. England have, of course, got the chance to reclaim the title on Saturday. Fingers crossed!
This is correct, and I apologize; in retrospect, I apparently misinterpreted the previous explanation comment and thought it said that Ireland were the champions (a line that led to England), when in fact it said that Wales were (a line that led to Japan).
So South Africa won the Rugby World Cup to retain the title last November. Coronavirus has meant that the Springboks have not played an international since - hopefully they will be competing in the Rugby Championship this November.
South Africa finally returned to international rugby on 2nd July 2021, exactly 20 months after they last played a match (which was, of course, the 2019 Rugby World Cup final). They beat Georgia 40-9. Their next three internationals are against the British & Irish Lions which don't count for the purposes of the URUWC (because if they did, and the Lions won the last match, the title would remain dormant for four years). Instead, the URUWC resumes on 14th August with South Africa vs Argentina.
South Africa won both their matches against Argentina in August 2021, but then lost to Australia. The Wallabies kept the URUWC for the rest of the Rugby Championship, by beating South Africa again, before doing the double over Argentina. They then beat Japan.
There then followed a remarkable sequence of seven successive matches where the holders lost the title; the first time this has ever happened in URUWC history. 07/11/21 Scotland 15-13 Australia 13/11/21 Scotland 15-30 South Africa 20/11/21 England 27-26 South Africa 05/02/22 Scotland 20-17 England 12/02/22 Wales 20-17 Scotland 26/02/22 England 23-19 Wales 12/03/22 England 15-32 Ireland
Finally, Ireland held the title with a 26-5 win over Scotland, and now head to New Zealand next month.
Following on from last year's update, Ireland lost the first test in New Zealand in July 2022, but won the next two to reclaim their title. They have held it ever since, with victories over South Africa, Fiji and Australia in autumn 2022, a Six Nations Grand Slam, and World Cup warm-up victories over Italy and England. They play their final warm-up against Samoa this weekend. Presuming they win against Samoa (which they surely will), it will be their 12th successive successful defence. This will surpass South Africa's best run of 11 (1937-53). It would then become the fifth longest run ever, with the top four all being achieved by New Zealand. The longest of all was 17 (1987-90).
It has just occurred to me that, despite having kept records for several years, I have scandalously failed ever to post on the women's unofficial Rugby Union world championship, so let me rectify that now.
The first official international was in Utrecht in 1982 and finished Netherlands 0 France 4. Notable events since then: 14/04/1991 The United States beat holders England in the first ever official World Cup final, thus becoming the first non-European holders. They held the title until 08/06/1993 when they lost to England in Toronto.
Since then, the only non-Europeans ever to have held the title are New Zealand. Their stints as champions have been as follows:
1997 to 2001 (13 successful defences); this included their 1998 World Cup win 2002 to 2009 (19 successful defences); this included their 2002 & 2006 World Cup wins, and remains the most consecutive wins of any nation. 2010 to 2011 (0 successful defences, but they took the title by winning the 2010 World Cup). 2016 to 2017 (4 successful defences) 2017 to 2018 (4 successful defences); this included their 2017 World Cup win. 2019 to 2021 (2 successful defences) 2022 to present (3 successful defences so far); this included their 2022 World Cup win.
The only other side to win the World Cup has been England (1994 and 2014). They had 17 successful defences from 1993 to 1997, and two runs of 15: 2011 to 2013 and 2021 to 2022.
With the inauguration of the new WXV competition this autumn, New Zealand may face more regular competition for their title.
Men's champions: Ireland Women's champions: New Zealand
Last Edit: Aug 21, 2023 18:34:19 GMT by petewaring