Building on the 1995 Rugby League World Cup, it was decided to expand the format further, with the number of teams rising from 10 to 16. As before, an Emerging Nations Tournament was held alongside the main event.
The millennium World Cup attracted a record sponsorship of over £1 million from Lincoln Financial Group, who had also sponsored Great Britain's Tests against New Zealand the previous autumn.
The 2000 World Cup was not considered a great success. There were too many mismatches in the early stages, and some of the teams lacked credibility. Notably the inclusion of a side representing New Zealand's Māori population, Aotearoa Māori, alongside the full New Zealand team, and a Lebanon side consisting entirely of Australians of Lebanese origin, led to derisory comments in the media. The tournament's organisers also attracted criticism regarding marketing and ticketing. For these reasons crowds at the tournament were low; also torrential rainstorms and the crisis on Britain's railways following the Hatfield rail crash did not help encourage spectators.
There were however some positives: the tournament returned a profit of more than £2m despite the small crowds it attracted; the French performed creditably, and attendance for the games held in France was encouraging. The much-derided Lebanon team also proved the catalyst for domestic competition in that country.
On the competition side of things, favourites Australia and New Zealand cut a swathe through the tournament, with several dominant performances setting up an obvious final clash. New Zealand's 49–6 semi-final dispatch of England, coupled with Australia only hitting the lead in their semi-final against Wales with 23 minutes remaining, had New Zealand installed as favourites in some quarters. However, it was Australia who prevailed in a tense, absorbing finale. Australia only led 18–12 with 15 minutes remaining, but a glut of possession saw them finish strongly – scoring four late tries to give the appearance of an easy victory.
Six countries – Lebanon, the United States, Morocco, Canada, Italy and Japan – competed for one available place in the tournament. In the final play-off match the United States lost 62–8 to Lebanon, who were through to their first World Cup.
The 2000 World Cup tournament features 16 teams: Australia – coached by Chris Anderson and captained by Brad Fittler
Cook Islands – coached by Stan Martin and captained by Kevin Iro
England – coached by John Kear and captained by Andy Farrell
Fiji – coached by Don Furner, Sr. and captained by Lote Tuqiri
France – coached by Gilles Dumas and captained by Fabien Devecchi
Ireland – coached by Steve O'Neill and Andy Kelly and captained by Terry O'Connor
Lebanon – coached by John Elias and captained by Darren Marroon
New Zealand – coached by Frank Endacott and captained by Richie Barnett
Aotearoa Māori – coached by Cameron Bell and captained by Tawera Nikau
Papua New Guinea – coached by Bob Bennett and captained by Adrian Lam
Russia – coached by Evgeniy Klebanov and captained by Ian Rubin
Samoa – coached by Darrell Williams and captained by Willie Poching
Scotland – coached by Shaun McRae and captained by Andrew Purcell
South Africa – coached by Paul Matete and captained by Jamie Bloem
Tonga – coached by Murray Hurst and captained by Martin Masella
Wales – coached by Clive Griffiths and captained by Iestyn Harris
The games were played at various venues in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France.
The Twickenham Stadium in London, the home of the English rugby union was the host stadium for the opening ceremony and match featuring hosts England and defending champions Australia.
This was the first rugby league match to be played at Twickenham Stadium, London's home of rugby union.
1. Lote Tuqiri, 2. Jone Kuraduadua, 3. Waisale Sovatabua, 4. Eparama Navale, 5. Farasiko Tokarei, 6. Semi Tadulala, 7. Stephen Smith
8. Kalaveti Tuiabayaba, 9. Tabua Cakacaka, 10. Freddie Robarts, 11. Etuate Vakatawa, 12. Joe Tamani, 13. Samu Marayawa.
Substitutes: 14. Atunasia Vunivialu, 15. Josefa Lasagavibau, 16. Amani Takayawa, 17. Peceli Vuniyayawa.
1. Robert Iliassov, 2. Mikhail Mitrofanov, 3. Donovan, 4. Craig Cygler, 5. Romanov, 6. Olari, 7. Gavriline
8. Ian Rubin, 8. Lysenkov, 10. Robert Campbell, 11. Petr Sokolov, 12. Findlay, 13. Joel Rullis.
Substitutes: Kalachkine, Netchaev, Jiltsov, Postnikov.
Australians Ben Kennedy, Trent Barrett and Nathan Hindmarsh were selected to make their Kangaroo debuts in this match.
1. Darren Lockyer, 2. Mat Rogers, 3. Ryan Girdler, 4. Matt Gidley, 5. Adam MacDougall, 6. Trent Barrett, 7. Andrew Johns, 8. Jason Stevens, 9. Craig Gower, 10. Michael Vella, 11. Ben Kennedy, 12. Nathan Hindmarsh, 13. Brad Fittler.
Substitutes: Scott Hill, Jason Croker, Robbie Kearns, Shane Webcke.
Coach: Chris Anderson
Tries: Rogers 4, Kennedy 2, Barrett, Hindmarsh, MacDougall, Girdler 2, Gidley.
Goals: Rogers 9.
1. Lote Tuqiri, 2. Jone Kuraduadua, 3. Waisale Sovatabua, 4. Navalu, 5. Semi Tadulala, 6. Smith, 7. Naisoro, 8. Tabua Cakacaka, 9. Robarts, 10. Vakatawa, 11. Tamani, 12. Marayawa, 13. Atunasia Vunivialu.
Substitutes: Tokarei, Navugona, Takayawa, Wawavamia.
1. Ritchie Barnett (c), 2. Leslie Vainikolo, 3. Tonie Carroll, 4. Willie Talau, 5. Brian Jellick, 6. Henry Paul, 7. Stacey Jones
8. Smith, 9. Swain, 10. Pongia, 11. Logan Swann, 12. Kearney, 13. Ruben Wiki.
Substitutes: Joe Vagana, Robbie Paul, Rua, Cayless.
1. Hazem El Masri (c), 2. Najarrin, 3. Katrib, 4. Touma, 5. H. Saleh, 6. Stanton, 7. Coorey
8. Maroon, 9. Semrani, 10. Elamad, 11. Chamoun, 12. Khoury, 13. Lichaa.
Substitutes: Salem, Nohra, Tamer, S. El Masri.
1. Paul Atcheson, 2. Paul Sterling, 3. Jason Critchley, 4. Kris Tassell, 5. Anthony Sullivan, 6. Iestyn Harris (c), 7. Lee Briers
8. Anthony Farrell, 9. Keiron Cunningham, 10. Dave Whittle, 11. Justin Morgan, 12. Mick Jenkins, 13. Dean Busby.
Substitutes: Ian Watson, Wes Davies, Paul Highton, Garreth Carvell.
1. Richard Piakura, 2. Tongia, 3. Steve Berryman, 4. Kevin Iro (c), 5. Karl Temata, 6. Bowen, 7. Joe
8. Tuakuru, 9. Clark, 10. Temu, 11. Kuru, 12. Pau, 13. Anthony Samuels.
Substitutes: Andersson, Lewis, Tere Glassie, Cook.
1. Freddie Banquet, 2. Yancine Dekkiche, 3. Cassin, 4. Dulac, 5. Patrice Benausse, 6. Laurent Frayssinous, 7. Devechi
8. Rachid Hechiche, 9. Wulf, 10. Teixido, 11. Guisset, 12. Tallec, 13. Jampy.
Substitutes: El Khalouki, Carrasco, Sands, Despin.
Papua New Guinea
1. David Buko, 2. John Wiltshere, 3. Aila, 4. Songoro, 5. Marcus Bai, 6. Stanley Gene, 7. Adrian Lam
8. Kahl, 9. Marum, 10. Solbat, 11. Naawi, 12. Mamando, 13. O'Reilly.
Substitutes: mother, Alex Krewanty, Norman, Mondo.
This was the first match of a double-header in Paris for the opening round.
This match formed the second part of the opening round double-header in Paris.
1. Paul Koloi, 2. Fifita Moala, 3. Tevita Vaikona, 4. G. Wolfgramm, 5. Lipina Kaufusi, 6. Howlett, 7. W. Wolfgramm
8. Martin Masella (c), 9. Esau Mann, 10. Talite Liava'a, 11. Willie Mason, 12. Talou, 13. Duane Mann.
Substitutes: David Fisi'iahi, Manu, Nelson Lomi, Kite.
1. Tim O'Shea, 2. Brian Best, 3. Leon Barnard, 4. Johnson, 5. Dames, 6. Conrad Breytenbach, 7. Jamie Bloem
8. Booysen, 9. Skelton, 10. Powell, 11. Rutgerson, 12. De Villiers, 13. Erasmus.
Substitutes: Jennings, Nel, Mulder, Cloete.
Coach: Paul Matete
Before the match a statue honouring French rugby league legend, Puig Aubert was unveiled by the French Rugby League Federation at the stadium.
1. Freddie Banquet, 2. Jean-Marc Garcia, 3. Cassin, 4. Arnaud Dulac, 5. Claude Sirvent, 6. Fabien Devechi, 7. Rinaldi
8. Hechiche, 9. Wulf, 10. Sands, 11. Jerome Guisset, 12. Tallec, 13. Pascal Jampy.
Substitutes: Despin, Carrasco, Sort, Teixido.
1. Paul Koloi, 2. Fifita Moala, 3. Vaikona, 4. David Fisi'iahi, 5. L. Kaufusi, 6. Howlett, 7. Hifo
8. Martin Masella (c), 9. E. Mann, 10. Liava'a, 11. Willie Mason, 21. Kite, 13. D. Mann.
Substitutes: Paul Fisi'iahi, Manu, Nelson Lomi, A. Masella.
Sin Bin: Lomi (25") for flopping.
the opening match of the World Cup was accompanied by heavy rain. Samoa's Fred Petersen had to be stretchered off the field after suffering a blow to the head while making a tackle 15 minutes into the second half.
1. Steve Prescott, 2. Brian Carney, 3. Michael Withers, 4. Michael Eagar, 5. Forster, 6. Tommy Martyn, 7. Ryan Sheridan
8. O'Connor, 9. Williams, 10. Barrie McDermott, 11. Chris Joynt, 12. Campion, 13. Luke Ricketson
Substitutes: Bretherton, Lawless, Barnhill, Southern. Coach: Steve O'Neill
1. Loa Milford, 2. Brian Leauma, 3. Anthony Swann, 4. Gulavao, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Simon Geros, 7. Willie Swann
8. Puletua, 9. Monty Betham, 10. Seu Seu, 11. Solomona, 12. Fred Petersen, 13. Willie Poching
Substitutes: Tatupu, Kololo, Leafa, Faafili.
Scotland: 1. Lee Penny, 2. Matt Daylight, 3. Graham Mackay, 4. Geoff Bell, 5. Lee Gilmour, 6. Andrew Purcell, 7. Richard Horne
8. Heckenberg, 9. Russell, 10. Laughton, 11. Scott Logan, 12. Cram, 13. Adrian Vowles.
Substitutes: David Maiden, Matt Crowther, Wayne McDonald, Shaw.
Coach: Shaun McRae
New Zealand Māori: 1. Clinton Toopi, 2. Manuell, 3. Kohe-Love, 4. David Kidwell, 5. Sean Hoppe, 6. Gene Ngamu, 7. H. Te Rangi
8. Rauhihi, 9. Perenara, 10. Terry Hermansson, 11. Koopu, 12. Tyran Smith, 13. Tawera Nikau.
Substitutes: Martin Moana, Leuluai, Nahi, Reihana.
Sin Bin: McDonald (40). Sin Bin: Nikau (40).
Scotland's loose forward, Adrian Vowles was sent to the sin bin mid-way through the second half for repeated off-side infringements Ireland:
1. Steve Prescott, 2. Brian Carney, 3. Martyn, 4. Eagar, 5. Herron, 6. Michael Withers, 7. Ryan Sheridan
8. O'Connor, 9. Lawless, 10. McDermott, 11. Joynt, 12. Kevin Campion, 13. Luke Ricketson.
Substitutes: Williams, Mathiou, Barnhill, Bradbury.
Scotland: 1. Danny Arnold, 2. Matt Daylight, 3. Lee Gilmour, 4. Bell, 5. Matt Crowther, 6. Horne, 7. Scott Rhodes
8. Heckenberg, 9. Russell, 10. Laughton, 11. Logan, 12. Cram, 13. Adrian Vowles.
Substitutes: Maiden, Graham, McDonald, Shaw.
This was the England rugby league team's biggest ever loss. By winning this match, New Zealand had again equaled their record for consecutive victories with five.
Wales became the first team in twelve months to score more than two tries against Australia.10