Final: Australia 35 France 12
Semi-finals: Australia 27 South Africa 21
France 43 All Blacks 31
Top tryscorer: Jonah Lomu (NZ) (8 tries)
Top pointscorer: Gonzalo Quesada (Arg) (102 points)
Hart-breaker for New Zealand as Wallabies score unique double
The Rugby World Cup returned to the Northern hemisphere in 1999, with high hopes for building on the momentum created by the spectacular 1995 tournament in South Africa.AUDIO: Listen to Keith Quinn talk about the 1999 tournament
The International Rugby Board unfortunately chose not to learn lessons from 1991 and again allowed the event to be held by a five nation consortium.
It was akin to putting on a wonderful buffet banquet, but insisting that guests move restaurants after each course.
Wales, the official host nation, was deemed too small to have all the matches in their territory and thus, just as in 1991, games were held across the other three home nations and in France. Conveniently, it meant that the northern hemisphere nations would all have 'home' group matches, while bizarrely both semi-finals were to be played at Twickenham on consecutive days.
The tournament failed to really capture the imagination in any of the host countries and suffered from some terrible scheduling - five groups of four nations resulted in the need for repechages just four days before the quarter-finals. Not surprisingly, the teams that emerged from those play-offs fell convincingly in the last-eight round proper.
The All Blacks left for the tournament with high hopes and heavy hype. They touched down at Heathrow airport in a plane that had the All Blacks front row emblazoned across it and played the tournament amid serious intense debate in New Zealand over where the inevitable victory parade would be held.
New Zealand had endured a disastrous 1998 season, where they lost five tests in a row (which included a hat-trick of wins to the Wallabies)
But a 1999 Tri-Nations triumph and the presence of mega-stars Jonah Lomu, Tana Umaga, Jeff Wilson and Christian Cullen buoyed the country and served to banish those dark memories.
Coach John Hart had managed to convince the country, via a sympathetic and perhaps naive media, that a record 28-7 defeat by Australia at Telstra Stadium was merely a one-off blip. Sensible punters however, saw the danger signs.
Tonga battered the New Zealand pack at a windswept Bristol before succumbing 45-9. In a repeat of 1991 the All Blacks then faced England in a classic encounter at Twickenham. Clever play by Andrew Merthens and the Lomu factor were the main elements in a 30-16 victory, but the English had dominated all the key possession and territorial stats - a portent of things to come.
The Taine Randall-captained team would rack up a century of points against a woeful Italian outfit and found moved into the quarter- finals, facing Scotland for the third time in four world cups.
The All Blacks won 30-18 but it was a stilted performance against a Scottish squad that had endured a tough encounter against Samoa just four days earlier. Indeed, Scotland 'won' the second stanza 15-5 as the All Blacks struggled in the lineout and lacked fluency in their backline play.
Meanwhile, defending champions South Africa easily disposed of Pool A rivals Uruguay, Spain and Scotland which set up a last-eight clash with England in St Denis.
Events in this game threatened a rugby revolution as Springbok first-five Janie De Beer slotted an incredible five drop goals to clinch a comprehensive 44-21 victory. This tactic, played out 20 metres behind the advantage line was extremely effective and looked un-defendable. Pundits and ex-players breathlessly wondered if the landscape of rugby had been changed irrecoverably - while administrators worried about the implications.
The answer would come a week later in the semi-final versus Australia.
The 1999 Wallabies were led by the incomparable John 'Nobody' Eales and featured veterans Tim Horan and Jason Little from the 1991 triumph. They had a solid forward pack with the bustling flanker Owen Finegan and the brutal number eight Toutai Kefu providing real power and presence.
The Australian backline could not boast the flair or pace of their New Zealand or French counterparts but were very efficient and superbly marshalled by George Gregan and Stephen Larkham, arguably at their peaks.
The Wallabies easily accounted for Ireland (23-3), Romania (57-9) and the USA (55-19) in pool play, conceding just a single try. In an astounding statistic, no team would score a five-pointer against them for the remainder of the tournament
The Graham Henry-coached Wales side took high hopes into their Cardiff quarter final clash and competed well but never looked like toppling a well-drilled Australian outfit.
After games in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick and Cardiff the Wallabies found themselves in London facing South Africa.
It was a tight, tough semi-final that went right down to the wire. Fans, purists, administrators and Australian coach Rod MacQueen breathed a huge sigh of relief as Janie De Beer left his radar in France, spraying numerous drop-goal attempts wide of the uprights. A potential point-scoring rugby revolution had lasted just one game.
Australian first-five Larkham broke a 21-21 deadlock by kicking an unlikely 45m drop goal in extra-time. It was the first three-pointer Larkham had ever kicked and poetic justice as the Springboks fell victim to their own favourite weapon.
France rounded out the top four, as they made the semi-final stage for the third time in four tournaments. They had beaten tournament surprise packages Argentina 47-26 in an ill-tempered quarter-final. The South Americans had little left in the tank, having come through the group of death in Pool D (alongside Wales, Samoa and Japan) and faced off against Ireland just a few days before the clash with France.
On the last day of October the All Blacks strode out onto a sunny Twickenham for their semi-final with a large kwi contingent in the stadium and a huge weight of expectation on their shoulders.
They had thrashed the fickle French 54-7 just four months earlier and boasted four of the best backs in world rugby. For 50 minutes all was well for All Black supporters as they led 24-10 and the French seemed unable, and indeed unwilling, to tackle Jonah Lomu as he smashed through for two tries.
Then came a fateful half hour in New Zealand rugby history, where the Tricolors scored 33 unanswered points with some brilliant attacking play. The All Black defenders were reduced to statues as the French swept downfield in raid after glorious raid.
It would emerge later that the Europeans had employed foul means as well as flair - with allegations of biting, eye gouging and other indiscretions being levelled against them. The New Zealand side choose not to retaliate but were clearly rattled by these tactics, while Scottish referee Jim Fleming failed to identify or punish the offenders.
These black marks didn't sully a magnificent French performance and the All Blacks made no excuses. They would lose the 3rd place play-off against South Africa five days later and coach John Hart lost his job and a fair chunk of his carefully crafted reputation in the bitter recriminations that continued for a considerable time after the tournament.
The final in Cardiff was not a classic, but it was a classically executed performance by a ruthless Australian outfit. They soaked up early French pressure before clinching the match with two second-half touchdowns. Matt Burke was unerringly accurate with his goalkicking and took the Wallabies to a 35-12 win, a record margin of victory in a world cup final.
Australia become the first country to achieve a World Cup double as they successfully brought back 'Bill' from the Northern Hemisphere for the second time.