Ranking Every World Cup Champion From 1987-2019

Ranking Every World Cup Champion From 1987-2019

There have been nine teams to lift the Webb Ellis Cup. How do we think they rank?

Jun 23, 2020 by Alex Rees
Ranking Every World Cup Champion From 1987-2019

There have been nine World Cup champions since the tournament started in 1987, with the All Blacks and Springboks winning thrice, the Wallabies twice, and England once. 

Here we present our ranking of the nine World Cup champions, from the least impressive to the most outstanding. Obviously each one of these teams carries legendary status, but there are just some champions that stand out a little more. 

Here they are:

#9.) 1991 Australia

The 1991 Australia side was the first Wallaby team to win the World Cup, but it was no easy road getting there. Though they won each of their three pool games, Australia's points difference in the group stage was 79 points for and 25 against. 

They then battled through an extremely tight game with Ireland in the quarterfinals, squeaking by on a last second Michael Lynagh try in the corner. They followed that match up with an impressive 16-6 win over New Zealand in the semi-final before taking down England 12-6 in the final. 

The 1991 Wallabies were certainly deserving champions and the best of their time, but in comparison with other world champions they don't jump off the page as much. 

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#8.) 1995 South Africa

If we were ranking teams based on significance, the 1995 Springboks would have to be the #1 team. At a time when racial tensions in South Africa were boiling over into dangerous territory, president Nelson Mandela sought to use the 95 World Cup in South Africa as a chance to unite the nation. They achieved immortality by winning the World Cup in their first appearance after a lengthy ban from international competition.

However, the victory comes with a grain of salt, as their opponents in the final, the All Blacks, suffered a severe outbreak of food poisoning the night before the final. Whether it was a conspiracy or not, the All Blacks were hugely affected by illness, and were unable to perform at their best. South Africa won the game in extra time, but it's very possible they never win that game if the All Blacks didn't get sick. 

RWC 1995 Final: South Africa vs New Zealand

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#7.) 2019 South Africa

The only team on this list to actually lose a game during their title run, the 2019 Springboks delivered one of the most dominant forward displays of all time. Their lineout secured all but one throw during the tournament and their scrum won penalty after penalty throughout the competition, particularly in the final against England. 

After losing the opening game of the tournament to New Zealand by a score of 23-13, South Africa outscored its opponents 249-44, capping it off with a 32-12 win in the final. 


#6.) 2011 New Zealand

In all reality, the 2011 New Zealand side could have gone down as one of the greatest teams of all time, but a litany of injuries to their fly-halves meant the All Blacks finished the tournament on their fourth string first receiver, Stephen Donald. The Beaver did enough to get the boys over the line with an 8-7 win in the final against France, but who knows how spectacular the All Blacks could have been had the G.O.A.T Dan Carter or his backups Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden been healthy enough to play out the rest of the tournament.


#5.) 2007 South Africa

Right at the start of the Bulls' Super Rugby dominance, the Springboks claimed the title as the best team in the world. On their way to a second World Cup title, Jake White's side defeated defending champs England twice, the first of which came via a 36-0 whooping in pool play. The 2007 Boks were an extremely deep side that used every player on the squad to make it through the tournament unscathed.

England vs South Africa | RWC 2007

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#4.) 2003 England

England's one and only World Cup title came in 2003 behind a stellar forward pack and the boot of Jonny Wilkinson. They weren't the prettiest team around, but they had enough dominance up front to unleash the likes of Jason Robinson out wide. The 2003 England team dominated pool play, highlighted by a 25-6 victory over South Africa. A quarter-final win over rivals Wales and a semi-final win over France put them in the final against defending champions Australia in Sydney. They won that game on Jonny's legendary drop kick, and remain the only England side to ever win the title. 

RWC Classic: 2003 Final Australia vs England

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#3.) 1999 Australia

The Wallabies' second World Cup title was a far more dominant showing than their predecessor in 1991. Australia mowed through everyone in pool play, scoring 135 points and conceding just 31 in three games. In the quarterfinals they handled Wales 24-9, before fighting through the 1995 champion Springboks 27-21 in extra time. In the final they took down France 35-12, their 23 point win still the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final ever. 

RWC 1999 Final: Australia vs France

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#2.) 2015 New Zealand

The 2015 All Blacks are the only team to ever repeat as World Cup champions, and did so in style. From a dominant pool play effort to a record-setting quarterfinal win over France, New Zealand was spectacular throughout. Their only tester was a semi-final with long time rivals South Africa, which the All Blacks won 20-18, before taking down Australia in the final 34-17. 


#1.) 1987 New Zealand

The first team to ever win the World Cup, the 1987 All Blacks were throughly dominant the whole tournament. They scored 30 tries in three pool play games, and then proceeded to annihilate the competition in the knockout rounds, winning 30-3 over Scotland, 49-6 over Wales, and 29-9 over France in the final. All in all, the All Blacks outscored opponents 298-52 in six games. 

1987 RWC Final: New Zealand vs France