1987 re­viewed


NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CONTENTS -

The first World Cup felt more like a gi­ant frat party than a se­ri­ous busi­ness of find­ing the best. It was maybe only by the semi­fi­nals that most peo­ple re­alised the point.

That fes­ti­val feel added to the charm, though and it was a tour­na­ment that was short, sharp and com­pelling in the end. If there was a fault, split­ting the host­ing across both New Zealand and Aus­tralia cre­ated, at times, a ma­jor dis­con­nect. There was one vibe in New Zealand and a to­tally dif­fer­ent one across the Tas­man.


A few can­di­dates for this – mostly All Blacks. John Kir­wan was im­pres­sive as was John Gal­lagher but the man ev­ery­one talked about for weeks on end was a cer­tain Michael Jones.

The All Black open­side played with an ath­leti­cism and in­ten­sity that no one had ever seen be­fore. He was so smooth across the turf, so tough in the con­tact and so good with ball in hand.


It was ob­vi­ous from the first games that New Zealand, Aus­tralia, France, Scot­land [who would have thought?] and Wales were a cut above ev­ery­one else. Eng­land re­ally did look like they had come for a boozy end of sea­son tour and Ire­land were much the same.

By the end of the pool rounds, the smart money was on the All Blacks play­ing the Wal­la­bies in the fi­nal – un­til that was, the French [who else?] played a mir­a­cle semi­fi­nal to snatch a vic­tory at the death with a mir­a­cle try. The fi­nal was a touch one-sided and re­flected that the All Blacks were a class above ev­ery­one else. They were fit­ter, faster, more or­gan­ised and more ca­pa­ble – re­it­er­ated by the fact the next test they lost was in 1990.


Scot­land played out a clas­sic 20-20 draw with France in the pool round that had ev­ery­thing. But for sheer drama, it was the semi­fi­nal be­tween the French and Wal­la­bies that de­fined the tour­na­ment. The French just wouldn’t give up – kept com­ing back and then, as only they can, mounted an at­tack from their own ter­ri­tory in the last minute which ended up with them scor­ing a fa­mous try in the cor­ner.


Serge Blanco, on his knees look­ing to the heav­ens af­ter scor­ing the last minute try to put France into the fi­nal.

John Kir­wan’s in­cred­i­ble solo try against Italy where he took the ball from the kick-off and ba­si­cally ran through the en­tire team.

Buck Shelford knock­ing Welsh lock Huw Richards un­con­scious and then some­how get­ting away with it. Even bet­ter – Richards was sent off when he came to.

Welsh full­back Paul Thor­burn’s last minute touch­line con­ver­sion to beat Aus­tralia in the third-fourth place play­off game.

FORM HORSE: John Kir­wan was in the form of his ca­reer.

michael jones

Joe Stan­ley

Kirw an couldn’t stop scor­ing.

Wales were blown away.

David Kirk takes it to the Fi­jians.

Grant Fox lands another goal.

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