The 2011 Rugby World Cup was the seventh Rugby World Cup, a quadrennial international rugby union competition inaugurated in 1987. The International Rugby Board (IRB) selected New Zealand as the host country in preference to Japan and South Africa at a meeting in Dublin on 17 November 2005. The IRB Council eliminated South Africa in the first of two rounds of voting.
The tournament was won by New Zealand, who defeated France 8–7 in the final. South Africa, the defending champions, were eliminated by Australia 11–9 in the quarter-finals. It was the largest sporting event ever held in New Zealand, eclipsing the 1987 Rugby World Cup, 1990 Commonwealth Games, 1992 Cricket World Cup and the 2003 America's Cup. Overseas visitors to New Zealand for the event totalled 133,000, more than the 95,000 that the organisers expected. However there was a drop in non-event visitors, meaning the net increase in visitors over the previous year was less than 80,000.
The games ran over six weeks commencing with the Rugby World Cup 2011 Opening Ceremony showcasing New Zealand's vast history and diverse cultures on 9 September 2011. The final was played on Sunday 23 October 2011, a date chosen because it fell on a long weekend caused by the New Zealand public holiday of Labour Day (Monday, 24 October 2011). The final was played at Eden Park in Auckland.
After speculation that the number of participating teams would be reduced to 16, the IRB announced on 30 November 2007 that the 2011 tournament would again feature 20 teams. Twelve teams qualified as a result of finishing in the top three in each pool in the 2007 tournament. The remaining eight berths were determined by regional qualifying tournaments. Of the 20 countries that competed in the previous World Cup in 2007, there was only one change – Russia replaced Portugal.