Imagine Rugby Blogs

The Top Ten World Cup Matches Part 1

We Count Down Our Ten Best World Cup Matches Ever

Posted Jan 20, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

The World Cup Worth Fighting For

Whatever pessimists might tell you, 2011 is going to bring some very good things to the sporting calendar, not least of which is the Rugby world cup, due to start on the 10th September in New Zealand.  As we’re all in a very optimistic mood after the New Year, we’re going to celebrate the glory of the great tournament by counting down our top ten matches from over the years.  Agree or disagree? Let us know!

10.  Argentina 28-24 Ireland, Lens 1999

The quarter final play-off in France was when the luck of the Irish ran out.  If they’d obtained victory against an unfavoured Argentinian team, it would have lead them to a quarter final showdown at Lansdowne Road, giving them the potential for a huge cultural and commercial bonus.  Unfortunately, no-one told the Pumas, who utilised their normal squeezing tactics up front, and took an uncomfortable Irish side out of the game.  Opportunity lost.

9. Tonga 28-25 Italy, Leicester 1999

It’s a weird move to award a place to a match that only attracted a few thousand supporters, but this match contained more passion and love for the game than it had any right to.  Both sides leapfrogged over each other throughout the match, fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.  When Sateki Tu’ipulotu thundered a drop goal to seal the match for the Tongans, the jubilation and air punching was unsurpassed.  We few thousand, we happy few thousand.

8,  Fiji 19-28 France, Toulouse 1999

If ever any team had earned the right to chant ‘The referee’s a w**ker’ it was the Fijians, who had dominated a French side widely expected to walk into the last eight.  New Zealander Ref Paddy O Brien, though, had different ideas.  Disallowing a legitimate try for the Fijian team, he also missed a forward pass in the build up to a French try and awarded the native side a penalty try in a vital moment of the match.  For the rest of the tournament, the French couldn’t shake the ‘villains’ tag.  An intriguing a match as there’s been, for good reasons or bad.

7.  Wales 16-3 England, Brisbaine 1987.

One of the strongest sporting rivalries of all time was brought to the other side of the world as these two sides representing the Old Order were charged with replicating the hostility in Brisbaine.  What they did produce instead was a game that changed the future of both sides.  An easy Welsh victory masked what was the beginning of the end for them, Jonathan Davies’ side breaking up the year after their eventual third placed finish.  England’s side, though, used the embarrassment as a springboard to improvement, hiring both Geoff Cooke as manager and Will Carling as captain.  A vital match because of the impact, not the play.

6.  Scotland 6-9 England, Murrayfield 1991

With England on a roll having defeated the French in their home country, they seemed to be on course for a run to the final.  However, the match itself ended up being incredibly tight, with a 6-6 score on the boards when the Scots were awarded a penalty from an easy position.  Gavin Hastings, the record points scorer for the Tartan army stepped up to give the Scots a clear path to an unexpected victory.  To the amazement of more or less everyone, he missed the kick, and England went on to win the match. 


Check back tommorow, when we’ll be unveiling our top five world cup matches in history.



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