The best moments of the Rugby World Cup

In this article, we look at some of the most memorable moments in rugby history.

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With the best players in the world competing for the ultimate prize in rugby union, the Rugby World Cup has provided some of the greatest moments in the sport’s history.

In light of this, we have scoured through the tournament’s history looking for our favourite moments.

Tournament : 8 September to 28 October 2023 
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Where to Watch : TF1 (France) Stan Sports (Australia), Raiplay (Italy) & Worldwide TV channels

Were there any we missed? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Don’t hesitate to let us know through our social media pages.

Greatest Rugby World Cup Moments

Japan Beating South Africa in 2015

This was one of the biggest shocks in all of sport, and not just rugby union, as we all love stories about the underdogs. Karne Hesketh’s last minute try in the corner helped Japan get an unlikely win over the Springboks after going toe-to-toe with them for the entire match. As a result, there was sheer pandemonium in the stands, and every non-South African fan was singing with joy.

The Rise of Jonah Lomu in 1995

Jonah Lomu was the first All Black to emerge onto the world stage in 1995. The giant of a man scored three tries in their first few matches which set up a semi-final match against England.

Lomu scored four tries during that match, including a bulldozing run through full-back Mike Catt. Have I mentioned he was only 21 at the time?

Jannie De Beer Kicks England Out in 1999

England would recognize the importance of the drop-goal in 2003 with the boot of Jonny Wilkinson (see below) since it is one of the simplest ways to keep the scoreboard ticking in your favour. However, it was South African Jannie De Beer who first demonstrated its effectiveness.

He kicked five drop-goals in the quarter-final match between the Springboks and England, knocking the English out of the tournament by 44 points to 21.

Jonny Winning Drop-Goal in 2003

The Rugby World Cup final went to extra time for only the second time in its history. A drop-goal set up by Martin Johnson set the stage for a drop-goal as time wound down. England and Australia were tied largely due to the kicking accuracy of Wilkinson and Flatley.

It was as wily as ever that Matt Dawson hesitated to almost draw the Australians offside and then threw the pass to Wilkinson at a time when they were retreating. Jonny coolly knocked the drop-kick through the posts with his weaker foot, putting the English 20 points ahead. At last, they won the world cup.

Western Samoa Beating Wales in 1991

With Western Samoa playing at home, it was expected that the Welsh would win easily. But the men in blue had a different plan as they triumphed 16-13 thanks to Vaea’s boot. It is likely that many people will point to the controversial try scored by Westerm Samoa in the second half as the reason for their shock victory, but that reduces how underrated the Samoans really were.

As a result, this was the first time a seeded nation had lost to a non-seeded nation in the competition.

England’s dominant 2019 semi-final against New Zealand

New Zealand were the favourites going into the match, but the England team had a certain air about them, shown by their reaction to the haka. Captain Owen Farrell smiled as the rest of the England team formed a semicircular line to the half-way line. The All Blacks hit back with a try in the second half, but it was not enough to prevent England from reaching the final with a 19-7 win. Eddie Jones’ team backed up their stunt with a dominant performance, racing to a 10-0 lead at half-time.

Stephen Donald Kicking The Decisive Points in 2011 Final

With the All Blacks playing in their first World Cup final since 1995, pressure was on to win in their home country. To compound the nerves, they were up against France, with third-string fly-half Aaron Cruden in the number 10 jersey.

As things got worse, Cruden himself went down injured with a knee problem in the final. Beaver, otherwise known as fourth-choice fly-half Stephen Donald, stepped up.

After Donald slotted a penalty in the 46th minute, the gap fell to eight points, but Thierry Dusautoir scored a try to make it one. Donald became a national hero for kicking the points that finally won New Zealand another World Cup after no other points could be scored.

Samoa and South Africa Praying Together in 2003 

After their bruising pool match, the players from Samoa and South Africa shared a prayer together in a moment of respect and reflection.

France Beating the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007. 

In two World Cups, the French knocked out the All Blacks despite being overwhelming favorites.

The All Blacks led 24-10 with the World Cup final just a few days away. However, the French scored 33 unanswered points in a stunning turnaround that the Kiwis couldn’t overcome.

Eight years later, the French pulled off another stunning comeback thanks to two tries from Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion. The final score was 20-18.

In two World Cups, the French knocked out the All Blacks despite being overwhelming favorites.

The All Blacks led 24-10 with the World Cup final just a few days away. However, the French scored 33 unanswered points in a stunning turnaround that the Kiwis couldn’t overcome.

Japan Topping Their Group In 2019

Putting Japan in a group alongside Ireland and Scotland, not a lot was expected of hosts of the 2019 World Cup. Despite this, the players performed excellently and made use of the Japanese people’s enthusiasm and excitement to defeat both Tier 1 teams to win their group. Despite the fact that Super Typhoon Hagibis nearly halted the match, the victory brought a nation together. People had lost their lives and the victory brought together a nation.

Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s first black captain, lifts trophy

When Siya Kolisi became South Africa’s first black captain in 2018, he also became the first black captain to lift the World Cup trophy in 2019. The image of him lifting the Webb Ellis trophy sparked discussions around race in the country. In his post-final interview, Kolisi spoke of coming together as a nation in an interview that went viral.

“We have so many problems in our country,” Kolisi said. “A team like this — we come from different backgrounds, different races — came together with one goal… We love you, South Africa and we can achieve anything if we work together as one.”

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