The second World Cup had an entirely different feel to the first. There was a sense of awakening – that the organisers had worked out the commercial potential of the tournament and the opportunity they had to make money.
Perhaps not surprisingly – despite it being apparent there were issues with splitting the hosting rights across nations – the 1991 World Cup was played in five countries. Not surprisingly because it would be beyond the IRB to actually make a bold decision.
Logistically it was a nightmare and it had the feel of a curious Five Nations format with each of the home unions playing many games at home. But despite the disconnection, crowds were good, TV broadcasters lapped it up and the whole of the UK bought into it.
HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Because the 1991 tournament had a qualification rather than invitation process, there was more quality and therefore greater intensity in the pool rounds. England were paired with New Zealand; Scotland and Ireland were together and so too were Wales and Australia. The big surprise, though, was Western Samoa who pulled off the shock of the tournament by beating Wales in Cardiff.
It was, really, in the last eight that the tournament came to life. Canada – who were genuinely good - pushed the All Blacks closer than anyone expected; England were surprise winners in Paris to indicate they were a serious contender; Scotland played superbly to beat Samoa – the darlings of the tournament - and Ireland came within four minutes of beating the Wallabies in Dublin.
A missed Gavin Hastings penalty in front of the posts cost Scotland the chance of making the final and David Campese, Tim Horan and Nick Farr-Jones destroyed an ageing All Blacks side.
England, strangely, decided to run the ball from everywhere in the final and were well beaten as a result.
GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT
The Samoa victory against Wales was the big surprise and a hugely significant performance in announcing the arrival of a new rugby force on the world stage. But the best game was in Dublin where IRELAND nearly pulled off the impossible in the quarterfinal. They dug deep to keep the WALLABIES within sight and then with four minutes left, flanker Gordon Hamilton scored a miracle try. The Irish were still celebrating – believing they were through, when Michael Lynagh orchestrated a brilliant recovery try to see the Wallabies home 19-18.
STAR OF THE TOURNAMENT
A few of the Samoans such as Apollo Perelini and Frank Bunce made a huge impression but the tournament belonged to the Wallabies and in particular one man – CAMPESE. The wizard on the wing was in his prime and in magical form. He scored solo tries that will live in the memory forever – his angled run to carve the All Blacks in the semifinal – and created plenty of others with his vision and outrageous skill set.
Welsh hard man PHIL MAY watching from the bench in his number ones, shoulder dislocated, as Samoa smashed his team to pieces.
MICHAEL JONES repeating his feat of being the opening try scorer in another World Cup.
CAMPESE goading England into running the ball in the final.
ERIC CHAMP and MICKY SKINNER having one of those super tense moments hard men often do – foreheads pushing against each other, eyeballs bulging sort of thing during the quarterfinal in Paris.
ADRIAN GARVEY of Zimbabwe scoring a spectacular long-range try against Scotland. He was a prop.
HEARTBREAK: Michael Lynagh broke Irish hearts.
England were unlucky in 1991.
Michael Jones scored the opening
try – again.
Samoa were too good for Wales.
The Wallabies get what they deserve.