The sport marks its 20th anniversary of turning professional. But how far has it really progressed?
Wales made heavier work of it than they would have liked but prevailed 23-13 in an entertaining and sometimes breathless Pool A clash against Fiji to move a step closer to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Despite a crippling casualty list and being drawn in the toughest pool in the history of the tournament, the Welsh will head to their final Pool A match against Australia next weekend with three wins out of three.
Progress to the knockout stage is not assured for the 2011 semi-finalists but victory for Australia over England at Twickenham on Saturday would secure it.
A combination of Welsh fatigue and Fijian fitness, however, meant the home side failed to cross the line in the second half and were reliant on the faultless place-kicking of flyhalf Dan Biggar to usher them to victory.
“Got to give great credit to Fiji, it was very tough. I was knackered in the first half,” Wales captain Sam Warburton reporters at the Millennium Stadium.
“But if someone had said before the start of the tournament we would have three wins from three you would have bitten their hand off for that.
“After the work we did last weekend we couldn’t throw it away.”
Fiji, who had impressed in their defeats by England and Australia, scored the best try of the game through centre Vereniki Goneva and dominated the scrum but were left ruing flyhalf Ben Volavola’s two misses from the kicking tee.
Elsewhere, France endured some uncomfortable moments before pulling away to beat Canada 41-18.
Philippe Saint-Andre’s men were in control at 17-0 up but Canada, never afraid to counter-attack at pace or spin the ball wide against the beaten 2011 finalists, refused to fold.
Two quick tries towards the end of the first half gave Canada a sniff of an upset and it was not well until the last quarter that the French finally wrestled back control as the underdogs tired.
Late tries from Pascal Pape and Remy Grosso, on his debut, earned France a bonus-point win that takes them top of Pool D on 14 points, four ahead of fellow group heavyweights Ireland who they face in their finale at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff on October 11.