The 2008 Rugby League World Cup was the thirteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954, and the first since the 2000 tournament. The tournament was held in Australia from 26 October, culminating in the final between Australia and New Zealand on 22 November.
2008 was the fourth time that the World Cup was held in Australia, the first being in 1957. The tournament was won by New Zealand, who defeated Australia 34–20 in the final in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. The tournament featured the best ten teams around the globe which were split into three groups. A total of eighteen matches took place in twelve different venues across four Australian states. The tournament ended a year of celebrations commemorating the centenary of the game in the southern hemisphere and was part of the Festival of World Cups.
The thirteenth Cup was scheduled to be held in Australia in 2004, however the lack of international success by Great Britain and New Zealand after the 2000 World Cup and the rise of the Tri-Nations tournament meant that it was delayed for a further four years. The Rugby League International Federation officially announced this tournament on 6 May 2006, with further details on scheduling and dates following on 19 April 2007.
The first match took place in Townsville between England and Papua New Guinea, although the official opening ceremony of the competition occurred before the Australia and New Zealand match the following day in Sydney. The final took place at Lang Park (Suncorp Stadium) in Brisbane.
The tournament proved a commercial success, delivering a profit of A$5 million and re-establishing the credibility of the competition.
|2008 World Cup|
|Number of teams||10|
|Winner||New Zealand (1st title)|
|Attendance||293,442 (16,302 per match)|
|Points scored||890 (49.44 per match)|
|Tries scored||156 (8.67 per match)|
|Top scorer||Johnathan Thurston|
|Top try scorer||Billy Slater|
The draw, after being confirmed by the RLIF on 19 April 2007, involved three groups. The first group was made up of four teams; Australia, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Whilst the other two groups involved three teams each. The semi finals were made up of the first three teams in the first group and the winner of a playoff between the winners of the second and third groups.
The draw was put into doubt after the Papua New Guinea team claimed that it was unfair to them and threatened to boycott the tournament should it not be changed. Marcus Bai, former Papua New Guinean winger and captain, said:
They have to change it and if they don't, we won't come. We will ring up the other island nations and teams elsewhere who don't qualify and we can have our own competition. They have shown no respect for our country or for our efforts to promote the game up there.
Fortunately for the tournament, this separate island competition did not eventuate. Papua New Guinea still remained upset with the draw, seeing it as a huge challenge but one which would have seen them be rewarded if they had won. The draw was finalised on 4 October 2007.
Teams received 2 points for a win, and 1-point for a draw. This meant that, unlike in the Australasian National Rugby League, there was no "golden point" rule enforced. In group stages, if two teams had the same number of points then positions were determined on points difference, the number of points scored minus the number of points conceded.
After group matches were completed, a match featuring the second placed teams in Group B and Group C took place with the winner receiving 7th place. Similarly the third placed teams in Group B and Group C played off for 9th place. It was believed that these results were to be taken into account in the 2009 RLIF World Rankings.
The hosts, Australia, were given automatic entry into the World Cup, along with New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea. The five remaining places in the World Cup were determined by qualification rounds. Two European rounds and Pacific, Atlantic and Repêchage rounds were scheduled.
Tonga and Fiji became the first two nations to qualify after Tonga defeated Samoa 18–10 in Leeds on 22 October, forcing Samoa to enter the repêchage. In the European Group Two, Ireland drew 16–16 with Lebanon to ensure qualification, while Lebanon were forced to enter the repêchage. The final automatic place went to Scotland, who defeated Wales 37–32 on aggregate after two legs. Wales then faced Lebanon in the repêchage semi-final, where they lost in a surprise 50–26 defeat, to knock them out of World Cup Qualifying. Lebanon then faced Samoa, who beat USA 42–10 in the first semi-final, on 14 November for the final qualifying position. The game was won by Samoa, 38–16, and so they booked the tenth and final place. Many qualification matches were broadcast live by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, whilst BigPondTV broadcast matches online for other fans around the world.
|Team||Nickname||Coach||Captain||RLIF Rank||Final Rank|
|Australia||The Kangaroos||Ricky Stuart||Darren Lockyer||1||2|
|England||Tony Smith||Jamie Peacock||3||3|
|Fiji||The Bati||Joe Dakuitoga||Wes Naiqama||6||4|
|France||Les Chanticleers||John Monie||Jerome Guisset||5||10|
|Ireland||The Wolfhounds||Andy Kelly||Scott Grix||9||6|
|New Zealand||The Kiwis||Stephen Kearney||Nathan Cayless||2||1|
|Papua New Guinea||The Kumuls||Adrian Lam||John Wilshere||7||5|
|Samoa||Toa Samoa||John Ackland||Nigel Vagana||12||9|
|Scotland||The Bravehearts||Steve McCormack||Danny Brough||11||8|
|Tonga||Mate Ma'a Tonga||Jim Dymock||Lopini Paea||4||7|
Six referees from four countries controlled matches in the tournament. These four nations also provided touch judges while England and Australia provided the video referees. In support of the Australian National Breast Cancer Foundation, the referees wore pastel pink shirts while officiating matches to raise awareness. The shirts, which carried the NBCF logo on the collar, were signed by the team captains at each World Cup game and were later auctioned off with the proceeds going to the NBCF.
Due to Rugby League World Cup rules prohibiting the use of commercial venue names, all venues were known by their non-commercial names, e.g. Suncorp Stadium was known as Lang Park during the tournament. Lang Park would also host the World Cup Final.
|Lang Park||Docklands Stadium||Sydney Football Stadium||Robina Stadium|
|Capacity: 52,500||Capacity: 56,347||Capacity: 42,500||Capacity: 27,400|
|Willows Sports Complex||Newcastle International Sports Centre||Canberra Stadium||Wollongong Showground|
|Capacity: 26,500||Capacity: 26,126||Capacity: 25,011||Capacity: 23,000|
|Penrith Stadium||Parramatta Stadium||Central Coast Stadium||Browne Park|
|Capacity: 22,500||Capacity: 21,500||Capacity: 20,059||Capacity: 8,000|
On Sunday night, 26 October, the Sydney Football Stadium hosted the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup. It started with Greg Inglis reciting a speech about "Playing Fair". Following Inglis' speech there was an Aboriginal Smoking ceremony to welcome all the athletes and participants. This included a rather large sized Rainbow Serpent which represented the Aboriginal Dreamtime. The last part of the ceremony involved a performance of the Rugby League World Cup anthem "Hero" by Natalie Bassingthwaighte. A curtain raiser to the Australia vs. New Zealand match included an Indigenous Australian squad playing against New Zealand Māori which featured several prominent NRL players and rising stars, including Chris Sandow, Wairangi Koopu, Preston Campbell, Sam Thaiday, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Carl Webb.
Welcome to the Country Match
26 October 2008
|Try: Wesser (2)
Goal: Soward (5)
Goal: Goodwin (2)
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Tony Archer
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup's eighteen matches were played during October and November in various locations throughout the east coast of Australia. The tournament's teams were divided into three pool groups. The teams finishing highest amongst those groups progressed to the play-offs.
All teams from group A (shaded in green) with the exception of the bottom qualifying team progressed to the semi-finals, the other two groups the top finisher progressed to a playoff match, in which the winner would qualify to the semi-finals.
|Key to colours in group tables|
|Advances to knockout stage|
|Papua New Guinea||3||0||0||3||34||126||-92||0|
|25 October 2008||England||32–22||Papua New Guinea||Willows Sports Complex, Townsville|
|26 October 2008||Australia||30–6||New Zealand||Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney|
|1 November 2008||New Zealand||48–6||Papua New Guinea||Robina Stadium, Gold Coast|
|2 November 2008||Australia||52–4||England||Docklands Stadium, Melbourne|
|8 November 2008||England||24–36||New Zealand||Newcastle Stadium, Newcastle|
|9 November 2008||Australia||46–6||Papua New Guinea||Willows Sports Complex, Townsville|
|26 October 2008||France||36–18||Scotland||Canberra Stadium, Canberra|
|1 November 2008||Fiji||42–6||France||Wollongong Showground, Wollongong|
|5 November 2008||Scotland||18–16||Fiji||Central Coast Stadium, Gosford|
|27 October 2008||Tonga||22–20||Ireland||Parramatta Stadium, Sydney|
|31 October 2008||Samoa||20–12||Tonga||Penrith Stadium, Sydney|
|5 November 2008||Ireland||34–16||Samoa||Parramatta Stadium, Sydney|
8 November 2008
|Report||Try: Vuna (2)|
Goal: Williams (7)
9 November 2008
Goal: Roberts (3)
10 November 2008
|Try: Uate (2)
Goals: Naiqama (5/6)
|Report||Try: Blanch (2)|
Goals: Richards (1/4)
15 November 2008
|Try: Ropati (2)
Goal: Smith (3)
|Report||Try: McGuire (2)|
Goal: Burrow (3)
16 November 2008
|Try: Paul Gallen 2'
Brent Tate 5', 16'
Billy Slater 9', 38', 49'
Johnathan Thurston 62', 66', 72'
Greg Inglis 77'
Goal: Johnathan Thurston (6)
22 November 2008
|Australia||20 – 34||New Zealand|
Darren Lockyer (2)
Johnathan Thurston (2/4)
Lance Hohaia (2)
Isaac Luke (3/3)
Benji Marshall (2/3)
Due to the generally poor response of the 2000 World Cup, there were several key criticisms of the tournament before any matches had kicked off. The RLIF were forced to defend the credibility of the tournament in October 2007 after New Zealand, one of the favourites for the competition, were heavily beaten in a Test match 58–0 in Wellington against Australia. Another concern was whether there would be enough competitiveness throughout the ten teams, with some fans worried about the possibility of too many one-sided matches, which was a common sight in the Group Stages of the 2000 tournament.
Ricky Stuart, coach of the Australian team, was reported to be so incensed by his team's defeat in the final that he verbally attacked Geoff Carr, the chief executive of Australian Rugby League, claiming that tournament organisers and match officials conspired to cause the Australian loss. The next morning he had a chance meeting with Ashley Klein, who refereed the final, and Stuart Cummings, the Rugby Football League's director of match officials, at their hotel. He reportedly abused both officials in front of a number of witnesses, calling Klein a cheat, and behaved in an aggressive and physically intimidating manner. Stuart later apologised for his behaviour and resigned from his post.
Tickets for Australian residents went on sale 7 November 2007 and internationally on 18 February. However tickets were not distributed until 3 March. Ticketek were announced as the official ticketing agency for the competition, selling tickets for all matches. Ticketmaster and Pilbeam Theatre were selling tickets to the Telstra Dome and Browne Park matches respectively.
The World Cup Final sold out months in advance.
The Official Sponsors of the Rugby League World Cup 2008 were:
The World Cup's "Heroes Here 08" promotional campaign was launched at the Sydney Opera House on 6 May 2008. At the launch, Paul Kind, the World Cup Director of Marketing, explained, "Heroes Here 08 underlines that fact that the international game, and particularly this tournament, will bring out the best in every player who takes part. It will create heroes."
Natalie Bassingthwaighte recorded an "Australian version" of the Mariah Carey song "Hero" which accompanied the "Heroes 08" promotional video and other World Cup advertising. The World Cup Opening Ceremony featured a live performance of the song by Bassingthwaighte.
Filming of visuals for the promotional video began in Leeds during the worldwide ticketing launch for the event in November 2007.
Advertising agency MJW, celebrity photographer Garry Heery and production company Engine worked together to combine the latest digital animation with a dark and determined set that highlighted the passion players feel in representing their country on the international stage.
The Heroes campaign featured Mark Gasnier (Australia), Roy Asotasi (New Zealand), Rob Burrow (England), Keith Peters (PNG), Waisale Sukanaveita (Fiji), Nigel Vagana (Samoa), Jerome Guisset (France), Lee Paterson (Scotland), Stuart Littler (Ireland) and Lopini Paea (Tonga). Gasnier was later removed from some of the promotional material after he left the sport mid-season and was replaced by Darren Lockyer.
The video also appeared in the video game Rugby League 2: World Cup Edition, which featured a world cup mode based on the event.
The 2008 World Cup had 26 separate television deals taking coverage to 127 countries and generating more than $20 million income. A global television audience of 19.2 million made it the most widely broadcast event in the game's history.
Channel 9 broadcast all Group A matches and the Knockout Stage matches in Australia. Fox Sports broadcast all Group B and C matches plus Ranking Stage matches live. In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports broadcast all matches live, meaning that all were shown in the morning and some as early as 06:00 am with highlights being shown on the BBC. Sky Sport showed all games live across New Zealand. Mai TV broadcast all matches live in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands. Orange Sport provided coverage of all matches live in France.
Coverage of the competition also extended to countries not taking part. Showtime showed all matches live across the Middle East. G offered coverage of all games in many countries in Africa. Astro showed all matches in Malaysia, and ESPN360 showed all matches in the United States. In Brazil, some matches were broadcast by Bandsports.
The only participating country with no television coverage of the matches was Tonga; the RLIF were hoping to secure a deal before the World Cup started, but this never happened.
BigPondTV, an online television station, broadcast all matches live and also repeated matches. This service was available to everyone for free.
The Festival of World Cups was a series of rugby league World Cups held in Australia during 2008. The Festival was being staged in Australia during 2008 to coincide with their Centenary of Rugby League celebrations. The centrepiece of the Festival was the men's 2008 Rugby League World Cup. In addition to this tournament, there were also world cups being held for University, Police, Women, Defence and Wheelchair teams.The Universities tournament officially started the Festival. Colin Love, the Rugby League World Cup 2008 Tournament Director and RLIF Chairman, stated "The festival highlights how the World Cup is embracing the Rugby League community and acknowledging its wide-ranging affiliates", adding "It’s a great opportunity to showcase the broad appeal of the game internationally".2008 Rugby League World Cup Final
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup final was the conclusive and world championship-deciding game of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament. Played between New Zealand and Australia on 22 November 2008 at Australia's second-largest rectangular ground, Brisbane's Lang Park, the match was a re-play of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup final and its outcome determined who would become World Cup-holders for the following five years.2008 Rugby League World Cup Group A
2008 Rugby League World Cup Group A was one of the three groups of teams that competed in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Group A was the largest of the tournament, consisting of four teams: Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea. After all teams had played each other once, only Papua New Guinea did not advance to 2008 Rugby League World Cup Knockout stage.2008 Rugby League World Cup Group B
2008 Rugby League World Cup Group B was one of the three groups of teams that competed in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Group B consisted of three teams: Fiji, Scotland and France. After all teams played had each other once, only Fiji advanced to 2008 Rugby League World Cup knockout stage.2008 Rugby League World Cup Group C
2008 Rugby League World Cup Group C was one of the three groups of teams that competed in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament's group stage. Group C consisted of three teams: Ireland, Tonga and Samoa. After all teams played had each other once, only Ireland advanced to 2008 Rugby League World Cup knockout stage.2008 Rugby League World Cup knockout stage
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup knockout stage took place after the Group stage of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and culminated in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Final2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifying
2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifying matches took place from April 2006 to November 2007. Of the ten teams to compete in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, five of them qualified based on their performance in these matches. The other five teams had qualified automatically.2008 Rugby League World Cup squads
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup featured the national teams (selected from twenty-four-man squads) of ten nations: Australia, England, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, France, Scotland, Ireland, Samoa, and Tonga.2008 Women's Rugby League World Cup
The 2008 Women's Rugby League World Cup was the third staging of the Women's Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 2000, and the first since the 2005 tournament. The tournament was held in Australia from 26 October, culminating in the final between Australia and New Zealand on 22 November. It was held at Stockland Park alongside the Police World Cup. Eight teams took part including defending champions New Zealand.Ben Fisher
Ben Fisher (born (1981-02-04)4 February 1981), also known by the nickname of "Fish", is a former Scotland international rugby league footballer who was player-assistant coach for the London Broncos in the English Super League. A Scotland international representative Hooker, he previously played for Hull Kingston Rovers of Super League, and Halifax.
Fisher signed for Halifax from North Sydney Bears in November 2004 and the Sydney-born number nine, has a British passport so is not an overseas quota player. Ben spent three seasons on the books of the Sydney Roosters before joining the Bears in 2001, scooped the club's "Best and Fairest" player award. In 31 appearances in 2005 season for Halifax he scored 17 tries. And he is one of Rovers' growing band of internationals, being a member of the Scotland squad.
In May 2008 Ben signed an extension to his contract keeping him at Hull Kingston Rovers until the end of 2011.
He has been named in the Scotland training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He has been named in the Scotland squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.In 2010 he represented Scotland in the Alitalia European Cup.Charlie Wabo
Charlie Wabo is a professional rugby league footballer who plays as a hooker for the Newcastle Thunder in Kingstone Press League 1. He is a former Papua New Guinea international.
Wabo is from the Okapa District of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea.
In August 2008, Wabo was named in the Papua New Guinea training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and in October he was named in the final PNG squad.Wabo was named in the interchange in each of PNG's three games in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
In 2009 Wabo moved to England to play for Hunslet Hawks in Championship One.
Wabo was named as part of the Papua New Guinea squad for the 2009 Pacific Cup. He was used as an impact sub playing hooker to great effect. His trademark solid tackling and flamboyant play ensured, along with David Mead, he was one of the crowd favorites for the PNG Kumuls during the Pacific Cup.
He played for Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations tournament. In 2011 he returned to play in Papua New Guinea. In 2013 He played in the Rugby League World Cup for Papua New Guinea.Christophe Moly
Christophe Moly (born 16 July 1982 in France) is a former professional rugby league footballer for the Pia Donkeys and Carcassonne club in the French Rugby League Championship competition.
He was named in the France training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He had been named in the France squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.Moly continued to represent France in the 2009 Four Nations tournament.Dave McConnell
Dave McConnell (born (1981-03-25)25 March 1981) is a former Scotland international rugby league footballer who played for St Helens and the London Broncos in the Super League. He has also played for Chorley Lynx, Leigh Centurions and the Rochdale Hornets.
McConnell's position of choice was as a hooker, but he played as a stand-off, scrum-half, second-row or loose forward.
He was named in the Scotland training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He was named in the Scotland squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.George Keppa
George Keppa is a professional rugby league footballer for Brisbane Norths in Australia. He plays on the wing. He is a Papua New Guinea international.
He has been named in the Papua New Guinea training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He has been named in the PNG squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.George Moni
George Moni is a professional rugby league footballer who plays for M & J Muruks in Papua New Guinea. He is a Papua New Guinea international.
He has been named in the Papua New Guinea training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He has been named in the PNG squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He played for Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations tournament.Grégory Mounis
Grégory Mounis (born January 18, 1985 in Perpignan, France) is a professional rugby league footballer for Catalans Dragons in the Super League competition. Equally comfortable at second-row or at loose-forward, Mounis became the first French captain of Catalans in 2007 and featured in every Super League season for the club between 2006 and 2016, having made his debut in the club's inaugural Super League match against Wigan in 2006.
An established international, Mounis featured for France in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
In 2016 Mounis was named at loose forward in the Dragons' Team of the Decade. He announced his retirement from the sport following the 2016 Super League season.Mathieu Griffi
Mathieu Griffi (born in France) is a professional rugby league footballer for FC Lezignan in the Elite One Championship. He is of Italian descent.He has been named in the France training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He had been named in the France squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He also represented France in the 2009 Four Nations tournament.Nickson Kolo
Nickson Kolo is a professional rugby league footballer, a blockbusting forward who plays for the newly formed club Gulf Isapeas in the Digicel Cup in Papua New Guinea, He is a former Papua New Guinea international.
He has represented Papua New Guinea in the Prime Minister's XIII games between Australia and PNG between 2007 and 2010.
His trade mark, blockbusting runs had earned him a place in the Papua New Guinea training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He played for PNG in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He has also played for Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations tournament in New Zealand and Australia.Rodney Pora
Rodney Pora is a professional rugby league footballer for Agmark Gurias in Papua New Guinea. He is a Papua New Guinea international.
He has been named in the Papua New Guinea training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.He has been named in the PNG squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.Pora was named as part of the Papua New Guinea squad for the 2009 Pacific Cup.
2008 Rugby League World Cup
|International Rugby League|
|British Rugby League|
|Australian Rugby League|
|Other Domestic competitions|
New Zealand – 2008 Rugby League World Cup Champions (1st Title)