Imagine Rugby Blogs

The Top Ten World Cup Matches Part 2

The Second Part Of Our Countdown...

Posted Jan 21, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

The biggest trophy in rugby

5. Wales 13-16 Western Samoa, Cardiff 1991

As everyone knows, we here at Imagine love a good giant-killing, even if it is against a home nation.  When Western Samoa arrived in Wales to take on an admittedly weaker side than the home team had previously possessed, the world stage was still expecting a dominant performance.  They got one, but not from Wales.  The Samoan side’s sheer desire for physicality completely took the Welsh out of their stride and led to a victory that was actually flattering in Wales’ favour by the end.  Whilst the Samoans lost their quarter final to Scotland, the world had taken notice.

Australia 17-20 England, Sydney 2003.

As tends to be their modus operandi across a lot of sports, England’s rugby side had under-achieved in never obtaining the rugby world cup, and went into this final eager to avoid a repeat performance of the 1991 final which had been competed between the same two sides with Australia obtaining the trophy by 12 points to 6.  A thriller of a match that wet into extra time with the scores level on 14 each.  In the last 26 seconds of the match, Jonny Wilkinson kicked the drop goal that won the world cup.  Everyone in England went appropriately bats**t crazy.

3.  New Zealand 70-6 Italy, Auckland 1987 

A match that takes it’s place because of occasion, not necessarily because of it’s quality.  The truth was that the opening match of the inaugral world cup was incredibly one sided, with All Black winger John Kirwan reading the riot act time and time again, simply swatting the Italian attackers aside in a majestic performance.  The strongest side in the world, it was almost fitting that the first match in the tournament’s history should be such an exhibition of the New Zealand dominance.

2.  France 30-24 Australia, Sydney 1987

If ever there was a vital match in the history of this great tournament, this was it.  With the first world cup having been beset by one-sided matches, the French (as they tend to be, either magnificent or awful) came up against an extremely strong Australia side that were widely expected to meet the All Blacks in the final.  In this game, though, the French came out at the very top of their game, and deservedly grabbed the win thanks to a try from full back Serge Blanco.  It was moments such as these that keep us all transfixed to the tournament.

1. France 43-31 New Zealand, Twickenham 1999.

Oh, like it was ever going to be anything else.  This match lit up the whole tournament like a firecracker, and is widely considered to be the greatest, most thrilling game of rugby ever played.  With Jonah Lomu in stonking form, the All Blacks had raced away to what seemed like an unassailable position.  Then France woke up.  Pressuring the opposing defence into collapse, they scored 33 points without response and took the game away against all logic.  A thrilling game that has yet to be matched.


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