On November 22, 2008, New Zealand and Australia faced off in Brisbane's Lang Park. The game was a rematch of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup final, and the winner determined who would hold the World Cup for the next five years. It was also a rematch of the 2007 NRL Grand Final, which Australia had won 24-10.
The 2008 tournament was the ninth staging of the World Cup competition and the first to be held in Asia. It was also the first time that both finalists from the previous year's World Cup had met again in the same season. New Zealand had previously defeated Australia 4-0 at home in 2006. This match saw Australia attempt to go one step further than last year by becoming world champions for a second time.
The tournament was sponsored by NZRL, with funding provided by the Australian Rugby League Commission and Queensland Rugby League. The draw for the tournament took place on September 25, 2008, with Australia hosting all of their group stage matches and New Zealand hosting all of theirs. The two countries were divided into four pools of three teams, with each team playing every other team in their pool once. The top two sides in each pool advanced to the knockout stage, while the third placed side went into a play-off against the fourth-placed team from another pool for a spot in the next year's World Cup.
The World Cup was contested in Australia for the fourth time, with the first being in 1957. New Zealand won the competition by defeating Australia in the final 34-20 in one of the greatest upsets in rugby history. The match took place at Stadium Australia in Sydney and was broadcast around the world.
New Zealand will be hosting the 2009 World Cup, which will be their third tournament. They have won the last two tournaments held in England and France respectively.
The Wallabies finished second in this year's tournament, winning three matches before being knocked out by England in the quarterfinals. That is also the same scoreline that ended the 1951 tournament after three matches had been played. Australia has never won the World Cup.
Australia first played against England in 1908 when they were known as "Victory" because of a trophy given to the winner. The Australians have never beaten England. There have been many great Australian players over the years, but no one has been able to beat English talent on its home soil. In fact, only once have the Wallabies won when playing away from home - that was in 1987 when they defeated Scotland 26-12 in Edinburgh.
The history of the game between New Zealand and Australia goes back even further than that.
The squad watched the first round of the competition before traveling to Newcastle and playing the city's inaugural rugby league game. They then played New South Wales and Australia before traveling north to Queensland. On June 6, Australia defeated New Zealand 14-9 in the last test, giving them their first test victory. The tour ended with a match against Northern Union side Hull F.C.
Newcastle Rugby League Club was founded in 1908 by players who left the Melbourne Rugby League team after they refused to release them from their contracts. The new club started in the local district competition but quickly became one of the strongest teams in NSW state football. Their first season saw them win the premiership but they lost all three tests against the Australian team. In 1911, they won their second title with the help of two former Melbourne players: Dave Brown and Jack Gibson. After two more seasons, Newcastle won their third title in 1913.
During World War I, rugby league was not played because manpower was needed for the war effort. When it was over, some professional clubs like St George decided not to resume league play because they could not afford to lose anyone else to injury. Other clubs such as Newtown and North Sydney formed new leagues that lasted for one season only. In 1919, several major rugby union competitions were merged to form a single league called "National Rugby League". The new league included teams from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and New Zealand.