1999 re­viewed

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CONTENTS -

Af­ter the magic of South Africa, the 1999 event re­turned to a split host for­mat and was a dis­as­ter on so many lev­els. The num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in­creased to 20 but in­stead of split­ting them into four pools of five, the or­gan­is­ers went with five pools of four to cre­ate the need for the truly ugly quar­ter­fi­nal play­off round.

Of­fi­cially hosted by Wales, the tour­na­ment was much like 1991 in that it was played across Eng­land, France and Scot­land and as a con­se­quence, was poorly sup­ported.

The fi­nal dis­as­ter was the All Blacks who were go­ing okay un­til the sec­ond half of their semi­fi­nal against France when they sud­denly im­ploded.

It was a poor and ul­ti­mately for­get­table World Cup all up.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

The over­all qual­ity of the rugby wasn’t great. By the end of the pool rounds it was ap­par­ent that South Africa, Aus­tralia and New Zealand were a long way ahead of the best the North­ern Hemi­sphere had to of­fer.

But still – de­spite be­ing con­sid­er­ably bet­ter – none of the South­ern Hemi­sphere’s big three had played par­tic­u­larly great rugby.

The All Blacks were try­ing to fit too many good play­ers into a crowded back­line and couldn’t quite get their flow with the bril­liant full­back Chris­tian Cullen at cen­tre.

South Africa and Aus­tralia were de­fen­sively minded and built their suc­cess on the re­lent­less­ness of their tack­ling.

Some­how an en­tirely out of sorts French team made the last four – leav­ing ev­ery­one to con­clude the win­ner of Aus­tralia ver­sus South Africa in the other semi would be play­ing New Zealand in the fi­nal.

But af­ter Aus­tralia won a dra­matic con­test in ex­tra time, the All Blacks were caught cold by the great­est come­back in history and ripped apart by a French team that had noth­ing left once they made the fi­nal.

GAME OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT

The semi­fi­nals were both ex­traor­di­nar­ily good for vastly dif­fer­ent rea­sons. The clash be­tween the Wal­la­bies and Boks went to ex­tra time as nei­ther side could break the other. The win­ning play was, of all things, a huge dropped goal by Stephen Larkham – the first and only of his ca­reer.

The other semi will for­ever be con­sid­ered the most dra­matic and un­be­liev­able ever played. The ALL BLACKS – huge favourites – were 24-10 up at half-time against a hor­ri­bly out of sorts FRENCH team. But a cou­ple of quick drop goals, two penal­ties and three tries in 20 min­utes by the French turned the world on its head. Some­thing hap­pened – they came alive and played the sort of rugby no one thought they were ca­pa­ble of and the All Blacks – dumb­struck – were out.

EN­DUR­ING MEM­O­RIES

The five dropped goals scored by South Africa’s JAN­NIE DE BEER in the quar­ter­fi­nal de­feat of Eng­land.

SAMOA once again BEAT­ING WALES at a World Cup.

LOMU smash­ing through Eng­land for a try in the pool game that was rem­i­nis­cent of his first in the 1995 semi­fi­nal when he steam­rolled Mike Catt.

AR­GENTINA’S break­through win against Ire­land to reach the last eight

The look of as­ton­ish­ment on ev­ery ALL BLACK face when they re­alised the French were de­stroy­ing them.

STAY BIG: Tana Umaga rides the French tack­ling.

Owen Fine­gan in the fi­nal.

Chris­tian Cullen takes on South Africa.

John Eales ac­cepts Webb El­lis tro­phy.

Josh Kron­feld with the ball.

France pull off the im­pos­si­ble.

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