1998 Wallaroo's Rugby World Cup Review
The Wallaroos first competed in the World Cup in 1998 at Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
A squad of 25 travelled to Amsterdam and went into the tournament with a seeding of sixth.
The Wallaroos easily accounted for Ireland in their first pol game 21-0 with Sharon O’Kane, Pearl Palalalii and Selena Worsley all crossing for tries.
Their next encounter saw the Wallaroos up against the formidable French team.
Trailing 10-3 at half time against France the Wallaroos looked out of the running but a second half try from Tanya Osborne gave the Aussies a slim hope of victory. The French held on however and the Wallaroos went down 10-8.
Despite the loss the Wallaroos qualified for the quarter finals where they faced the defending champions England.
The English were too strong for the Wallaroos in the quarter finals defeating them 30-13 and sending Australia into the Plate Finals.
The Plate Semi Final saw the Wallaroos up against Spain who had pushed former World Cup holders United States of America all the way in their Quarter Final.
In a thrilling contest the Wallaroos held on for a 17-15 victory with Perise Ili proving the difference with four penalty goals.
Their final match of the tournament saw the Wallaroos up against Scotland in the Plate Final wit the winner grabbing fifth pace for the tournament.
Sharon O’Kane (two tries) and Tanya Osborne (one try) lead the Wallaroos to a 25-15 victory continuing their great showing at the tournament.
Fifth place in their first World Cup appearance was a fantastic achievement for the Wallaroos.
History of Women’s Rugby in Australia – Australian Wallaroos’ Rugby World Cup Tour (1998)
as seen in the 1998 Rugby World Cup program
The game of rugby was first played by women in the country towns of Tamworth and Armidale during the late 1930s. However the second world war holted play as women were required to work on the land.
In 1991, then Newcastle Rugby Union Executive Director Wal Fitzgerald revived women’s rugby, establishing competitors of seven-a-side and touch. But, the 15-a-side game remained very much on the agenda.
A year later, the Australian Club Championship was staged in Newcastle fifth five teams. In the two years that were to follow, fourteen clubs from the Northern Territory, North Queensland, Brisbane, and the ACT were to become valuable members of the competition.
This championship has since been succeeded by a state versus state competition, with Queensland proving the dominant force.
The establishment of the Australian Women’s Rugby Union, with Joan Forno as its president, in 1993 led to the first Test being played by the Wallaroos against the New Zealand national women’s team.
The rivalry that now exists between the two is comparable to that of the Wallabies and the All Blacks vying for the coveted Bledisloe Cup. Although the All Black women have held the upperhand in the four encounters to date, the Wallaroos have proved gallant in defeat on every occasion.
Last season the Wallaroos also played their first Test against former World Cup victors and 1994 runners-up, the United States. In a match which demonstrated the Wallaroos’ potential, the Australians rattled the Americans with four spectacular tried to the visitors’ three. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the boot proved the difference and the Wallaroos went down narrowly, 24-28.
Today, women’s participation across the country has grown to over 1200 and the sport is being played by girls in more than 100 schools.