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The 30 greatest Rugby World Cup moments

Published 10/09/2011 | 09:47

<b>THE FIRST OF MANY...</b><br/>
Michael Jones' try for New Zealand against Italy in the inaugural match of the 1987 tournament will forever be remembered as the first try in a Rugby World Cup. Jones proved a star performer that year and also scored the first try of the first ever World Cup Final, helping the All Blacks to defeat France 29-9.
Michael Jones' try for New Zealand against Italy in the inaugural match of the 1987 tournament will forever be remembered as the first try in a Rugby World Cup. Jones proved a star performer that year and also scored the first try of the first ever World Cup Final, helping the All Blacks to defeat France 29-9.
David Campese, ever opinionated, was so sure that Australia would beat England in the 2003 World Cup Final that he promised to walk down Oxford Street wearing a sandwich board declaring "I admit, the best team won!" if he was proved wrong. Campo's parade raised thousands of pounds for Great Ormond Street hospital.
Argentina shocked the rugby world by finishing third in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The inspired Pumas won their group by beating hosts France 17-12 and Ireland 30-15. The South American side overcame Scotland 19-13 in the quarter-finals but were eventually defeated 37-13 by South Africa in the semi-finals. The Pumas proved their opening win was no fluke by running in five tries in the third-place play-off to defeat France 34-10.
Samoa, competing in a Rugby World Cup for the first time, shocked joint-hosts Wales with a 16-13 win at the Cardiff Arms Park in 1991 - a result which eventually knocked Wales out in the group stage. Samoa have proved Wales' Rugby World Cup bogey team and returned to haunt them again eight years later by winning once more in Cardiff, this time 38-31.
The Pacific Island side, who recently beat Australia (ranked second in the world behind New Zealand) 32-23, face Wales again in this year's World Cup. The Pool D tie is on 18 September in Hamilton.
Josh Lewsey took advantage of a moment of hesitation from France's Damien Traille to give England a 5-0 lead within just 78 seconds of the 2007 Rugby World Cup semi-final. Traille, usually a centre, had been picked out of position at full-back by French coach Bernard Laporte. When Andy Gomarsall's box-kick bounced up, Traille slipped and Lewsey stole in, barging through the powerful Frenchman to touch down and set England on their way to a 14-9 victory and their second consecutive World Cup final.
John Kirwan's solo effort against Italy in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup has often been considered the greatest ever World Cup try. The New Zealander received the ball in his own 22 from an Italian kick-off, before running at pace at the advancing Italian line. The winger raced past seven defenders to storm towards the try-line, eventually diving over for a remarkable 80-metre effort. Kirwan finished the 1987 tournament as the top try-scorer with six tries.
John Eales, perhaps the finest lock to have played the game, lifted the Rugby World Cup for the second time in 1999 when his Australia side beat France 35-12 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Eales went on to make 86 Test caps for Australia and is one of just six players to have won the World Cup twice, having also celebrated glory in 1991 after Australia beat England 12-6 at Twickenham.
Stephen Jones' try against England in the quarter-final stage of the 2003 tournament not only gave the eventual champions a great scare, but it was also emblematic of Wales' revival as a rugby playing nation after a difficult start to the post-Millennium years. Shane Williams received a deep kick just outside his 22, before dodging past two English tacklers to find Gareth Cooper in space. The scrum-half burst through a gap in England's line before handing the ball on to full-back Gareth Thomas. 'Alfie' was able to release the ball back to Shane Williams before being hauled down, whereupon the diminutive winger juggled the ball into the path of the oncoming Jones. The fly-half dived over for a breathless try and one which, momentarily, threatened to derail England's march to the final.
In 1995, Jonah Lomu became rugby's first global superstar when he took the Rugby World Cup by storm. Lomu scored seven tries in the tournament but it was his performance against England in the semi-final which really caught the eye. The twenty-year-old winger, who weighed just under twenty stone and towered over his opposition at 6'5", famously trampled over Mike Catt on his way to scoring four tries and dumping England out of the tournament in a 45-29 victory for the All Blacks. After the game, England captain Will Carling famously described Lomu as 'a freak'. The Kiwi's further eight tries in the 1999 tournament make Lomu the all-time Rugby World Cup top try-scorer with fifteen tries.
Australia ran in a staggering 22 tries against Namibia during the group stage of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Chris Latham (pictured) scored five, whilst Lote Tuqiri and Matt Giteau both scored hat-tricks to contribute to a 142-0 victory for the Wallabies. Mat Rogers' sixteen conversions handed him a personal haul of 32 points. For a humiliated Namibia, the result stands as the widest ever margin in a Rugby World Cup encounter
The USA's Takudzwa Ngwenya shocked the rugby world during the 2007 Rugby World Cup by outpacing South Africa's Bryan Habana, commonly considered to be the fastest man in international rugby, to finish off a tremendous length-of-the-pitch try. The Eagles' Todd Clever intercepted a loose Springbok pass on his own five metre line and broke out of the 22, before finding second row Alec Parker on his inside. Parker fed fly-half Mike Hercus, whereupon the half-back looped a long pass out to the onrushing Ngwenya. Habana showed the American flyer the outside and Ngwenya gladly accepted, screaming past the Springbok winger to run over the try-line in the corner and touch down under the posts. The try was many people's favourite score of the entire 2007 tournament. It certainly left Habana fuming.
Ireland came within an inch of reaching the semi-finals at he 1991 Rugby World Cup. The quarter-final between Ireland and Australia at Lansdowne Road was perhaps the best match of the tournament, and one of the best World Cup encounters ever. With just five minutes remaining, Irish flanker Gordon Hamilton rampaged past David Campese and raced forty metres to score a breathtaking try. Ralph Keyes slotted the conversion from a tight angle. For a moment, Ireland seemed on the verge of knocking Australia out of the World Cup. But, just minutes after the restart, Ireland conceded a penalty and Australia pushed towards the try-line. The ball was moved wide to Campese, whereupon the winger popped it inside to Michael Lynagh to burst over the line and break the hearts of the nation. The game finished 19-18 to the Wallabies. The result remains the closest Ireland have ever got to reaching the semi-finals of a Rugby World Cup.
Serge Blanco scored one of the most famous tries in Rugby World Cup history when he dashed to the corner against Australia in the final minute of the 1987 semi-final. With the game tied 24-24, Les Bleus passed the ball between eleven pairs of hands in a passage of play that saw them sweep all the way from their own 22 to the Wallabies' line. With tired bodies strewn everywhere, the ball was finally worked left to Blanco and the full-back was able to evade a number of Australian tacklers to touch the ball down at full-stretch in the corner. The score put France ahead for the first time in the game and ultimately secured France's passage to the final.
One of the most riveting moments of the 2003 Rugby World Cup was the pre-match build up to the Pool D match between New Zealand and Tonga. Both sides lined up on the halfway line and attempted to outdo their opponents by performing their respective haka. The showdown sent the atmosphere inside the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, to boiling point. Unfortunately, Tonga were unable to compete with New Zealand on the pitch as the All Blacks ran out 91-7 winners. Still, the encounter serves as a reminder of the passion that Pacific nations have for their rugby and for their traditions.
Australia, who have so often been on the receiving end of crushing drop-kicks, delivered one of their own during the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa at Twickenham. With the game tied at 21-21 in extra-time, Wallaby fly-half Stephen Larkham, who had injured his kicking knee earlier in the match, dissected the Springbok's posts with a huge 48m drop-goal. Larkham's effort took the game away from South Africa and allowed Australia to seal a 27-21 victory and progress to the World Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium.
Chester Williams, nicknamed 'The Black Pearl', was the first non-white player to represent South Africa in the post-Apartheid years. Williams' inclusion in the Springbok's 1995 World Cup squad had been considered politically motivated as strict quotas were put in place on the selection of non-white players. However, the winger proved he deserved his place on merit as he scored four tries in South Africa's quarter-final win over Western Samoa, as well as featuring in the Boks' World Cup final victory over New Zealand. Williams' role in the 'Boks remarkable, against-the-odds triumph helped to unite 43
Rugby World Cup encounters between France and New Zealand have a tendency to produce the spectacular and their 1999 semi-final game at Twickenham certainly set the benchmark. The All Blacks were favourites to win the tournament and showed their worth by building up a 24-10 lead over the French. But a supreme kick display from Christophe Lamaison brought France back into the game, whereupon the All Blacks collapsed. Tries from Christophe Dominici, Richard Dourthe and Philippe Bernat-Salles completed a remarkable comeback as France stunned New Zealand with a 43-31 victory.
In 2007, New Zealand were once again favourites for World Cup glory but yet again came unstuck at the hands of the French. Les Bleus, in contrast, were relatively out of form having lost to Argentina in the group stage. Although the All Blacks held a 13-3 lead at half-time, the second-half sin-binning of the impressive Luke McAllister allowed the French backs and loose forwards to turn on their much-vaunted flair. Tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion overturned the deficit and the French were able to hold on to an against-the-odds 20-18 victory.
Wales produced their best ever World Cup finish in 1987 when they defeated Australia 22-21 in the third place play-off. Although Wales had beaten England 16-3 at the quarter-final stage, they had been crushed 49-6 by New Zealand in the semi-finals. Australia, the pre-tournament favourites, were expected to inflict similar damage, but the Wallabies came badly unstuck. Australia flanker David Codey was sent off for dangerous rucking after just four minutes and Wales' one man advantage eventually told. Although Australia led 21-16 approaching the final stages, Welsh winger Adrian Hadley scored a late try in the corner to put his side within one point of the Wallabies. Fullback Paul Thorburn then had the opportunity to win the match for Wales and his conversion from the touch-line proved inch-perfect.
Scotland took on England in the 1991 Rugby World Cup semi-final at Murrayfield. With the game tied at six points apiece in the final quarter, Scotland had the opportunity to progress into the final when they won a penalty in front of the posts. Scottish legend Gavin Hastings, an experienced kicker, took the penalty goal but inexplicably sent the ball wide of the posts. Rob Andrew then struck a late drop-goal to hand England a narrow 9-6 victory. Scotland eventually ended in fourth place - their best World Cup finish to date - but it should have been so much more.
England took on Australia in the 1995 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cape Town and progressed through thanks to an extra-time drop-goal from fly-half Rob Andrew. With the game tied at 22-22, Andrew collected the ball from scrum-half Dewi Morris and sent a huge forty-five metre kick over the Wallabies' posts to secure a 25-22 victory for England.
It hardly needs repeating but Jonny Wilkinson's extra-time drop-goal against Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final still remains one of the iconic moments in the history of the tournament. Wilko's effort came just twenty-six seconds before the end of extra-time and effectively ended the contest, handing England a 20-17 victory and sending the country into ecstasy. The bonanza which met the squad's return to English soil was quite incredible.
The relatively unknown Jannie de Beer became a South African hero during the 1999 Rugby World Cup as the fly-half, who was only called up due to an injury to first-choice selection Henry Honiball, almost single-handedly knocked England out of the tournament in the quarter-final stage, setting numerous records in the process. It was during the Springbok's 44-21 victory over England in Paris that De Beer established his reputation as a kicking fly-half; his personal haul of 34 points was a South African record and included five drop-kicks - a world record for the most drop-goals in a single game.
Wales' woe against Pacific Islands' sides continued in the 2007 Rugby World Cup as they were dumped out of the tournament by Fiji in the group stage. Fiji stormed into a 25-10 first-half lead thanks to tries from Akapusi Qera, Vilimoni Delasau and Kele Leaware. Wales improved after the break and even momentarily took the lead after a stunning solo try from Shane Williams, and further scores from Gareth Thomas and Mark Jones. However, the nine-try encounter swung the other way once more as the TMO awarded a late try to prop Graham Dewes to send Fiji through to the quarter-finals. The defeat spelled the end of Gareth Jenkins' tenure as Wales head coach.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup final is best remembered for Jonny Wilkinson's late drop-goal, but perhaps the best move of the game ended with Jason Robinson diving over in the corner just minutes before half-time. Wilkinson received the ball from Lawrence Dallaglio's rampaging run into the Wallabies' 22, before spinning a long pass out to Robinson on the wing. The flying winger took the ball at unstoppable speed and crashed over for a crucial score.
David Campese was named man of the tournament in 1991, and the great Australian winger had perhaps his finest game in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. Although 'Campo' scored the Wallabies' first try in the twelfth minute, it was in fact his pass for Tim Horan's try which is best remembered. On thirty-five minutes, Campese broke through the Kiwi line but was quickly closed down, leaving the great man to throw a blind pass over his shoulder to Tim Horan. Many spectators are still convinced that Campese did not know that he had a team-mate behind him, but Campo has always claimed that he knew exactly what he was doing.
New Zealand took on France in the first ever Rugby World Cup final in 1987. France were full of confidence having defeated Australia in an epic encounter in the semi-finals, but the All Blacks proved irresistible. New Zealand skipper David Kirk scored the try which settled the game in his side's favour; collecting the ball off the base of a ruck, Kirk popped the ball to Grant Fox, who in turn fed Michael Jones. The flanker broke through the French line and found Kirk once more, allowing the scrum-half to dive over in the corner for the all-important score. The All Blacks eventually won 29-9, meaning Kirk had the honour of being the first captain to lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy.
One of the best matches in the 2003 tournament was the group game between New Zealand and Wales. The All Blacks eventually won 53-37, but they were given a terrible scare by a spirited Wales side which led 37-33 early in the second half. Mark Taylor scored an early try for Steve Hansen's much-maligned side, before further scores from Sonny Parker, Colin Charvis and Shane Williams put Wales on the brink of the greatest upset in Rugby World Cup history. Unfortunately, Wales eventually ran out of steam and late tries from Carlos Spencer, Doug Howlett and Aaron Mauger sealed victory for New Zealand.
Perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of the Rugby World Cup came just after the 1995 final between hosts South Africa and the hotly-tipped New Zealand at Ellis Park

All photos: Getty Images

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