Tops... ...and flops

New Zealand's flanker and captain Richie McCaw (right) is tackled by Australia's David Pocock during the final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham stadium, south west London, on Oct 31, 2015.
New Zealand's flanker and captain Richie McCaw (right) is tackled by Australia's David Pocock during the final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham stadium, south west London, on Oct 31, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

JAPAN

New Zealand may have won the trophy but it was a jubilant World Cup for the 2019 hosts, who claimed the greatest upset in the tournament's history with a 34-32 win over two-time champions South Africa. Sadly, they also became the first team to win three pool games and not make the quarter-finals.

DAVID POCOCK

The No. 8 lit up the tournament with play that made him a leading candidate to be player of the World Cup. Scored a brilliant try to get Australia back into the World Cup final.

ENGLAND AS HOSTS

This was hailed as the "best ever" tournament by World Rugby president Bernard Lapasset. Record attendances (2.5 million), a great atmosphere and no trouble. Even after England's exit, spectators kept piling into the stadia so England did win something in the end - the hearts and minds of global fans.

THE ENGLAND TEAM

Catastrophic performances and poor leadership all started with bad selection. England lost to Wales and Australia in Pool A and became the first hosts to fail to reach the knockout rounds. They allowed Wales back into the match when it looked won and the night was capped by Chris Robshaw's bizarre decision not to go for a penalty that could have earned a draw. As it turned out, the draw would have seen them reach the last eight at Wales' expense.

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

All four semi-finalists - Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa - came from the Southern Hemisphere. It was a first at the World Cup.

WORLD RUGBY

The governing body faced strong criticism for publicly stating that Craig Joubert had been wrong to give Australia a last-minute, game-winning penalty in their quarter-final against Scotland.

The South African referee was subjected to abuse but World Rugby's decision to release an unprecedented review of the game caused widespread controversy.

The caveat that Joubert remained one of the best referees in the world did not soften the blow. Still, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper insisted yesterday that the governing body had not meant for Joubert to be "thrown under a bus".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Tops... ...and flops'. Print Edition | Subscribe