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Top 10 Greatest Upsets in International Rugby History


Following Ireland’s massive upset against the All Blacks in Chicago at the weekend here are RUCKs ten biggest upsets in international history. Where would Ireland’s win rank among these upsets?

10) France 12 Argentina 17, 2007 World Cup (group stage)

The inspired Pumas shocked the world as they triumphed over France in the opener of Les Bleus home World Cup. Ignacio Corleto scored the game’s only try while Felipe Contepomi chipped in with 12 points from the boot as 80,000 French fans were stunned into silence at the Stade de Francais.

 9) Fiji 38 – 34 Wales, 2007 World Cup (pool stage)

Not many fancied Fiji when they took on Wales at the 2007 World Cup. The Fijians had an explosive first half, leading 25-10 at half-time but would find themselves behind after Shane Williams and Martyn Williams crashed over. Nevertheless, prop Graham Dewes touched down the ninth and final try of the game to give Fiji the against the odds victory and as a result secured them a place in the quarter-finals.

8) Australia 21 Wales 22, 1987 World Cup (third-place play-off)

Following Australia’s unexpected elimination by France in the semi-final, things went from bad to worse for the Wallabies as they suffered another unexpected defeat. The game was neck and neck going into the final few minutes before Adrian Hadley’s last-gasp try and Paul Thorburn’s conversion from the tightest of angles secured the win for the men in red.

7) Western Samoa 16 Wales 13, 1991 World Cup (group stage)
Wales’s crushing defeat to Western Samoa was the first time a leading rugby nation had been undone in a tournament by a rank outsider. The fact the match was at Cardiff Arms Park made the win even more incredible. The sides ended the game tied a two tries a piece, but the excellent kicking performance of Mathew Vaea proved to be decisive as Samoa edged to victory by three points.

6) France 43 New Zealand 31, 1999 World Cup (semi-final)

The All-Blacks were the clear favourites heading into this semi-final and their dominant start to the match furthered this line of thinking as they led comfortably 24-10 early in the second half. However, this only makes Les Bleus comeback victory even more improbable. The star of the match was Christophe Lamaison as he single-handedly inspired his nation to triumph with a perfect kicking display. His solo efforts did not go unrecognised as he received a standing ovation from the 75,000 fans at Twickenham at the end of the match.

 5) New Zealand 18 France 20, 2007 World Cup (Quarter-final)

Les Bleus pulled off another famous and unlikely victory over the tournament favourites New Zealand in 2007 to set up a semi-final against England. France had struggled in the first half, trailing 13-3 at the break. However, following Luke McAlister’s sin bin for New Zealand, France got back level. Rodney So’oialo then restored the All Blacks lead, but a score from Yannick Jauzion soon after proved to be France’s match-winning try.

4) Ireland 15 Australia 6, 2011 World Cup (group stage)

Ireland, who have never surpassed the quarter-finals at a Rugby World Cup, did have a moment of salvation four years ago when they upset the odds to stun Australia. The win in the pivotal group stage match ensured the Irish finished top of the pool. Johnny Sexton kicked two penalties and a drop goal while Ronan O’Gara completed the scoring with six points in Ireland’s finest World Cup display to date.

 3) Samoa 31 Wales 28, 1999 World Cup (group stage)

After the 1991 World Cup defeat against Western Samoa, there had been a widespread joke amongst Welsh fans saying: ‘Thank God we weren’t playing all of Samoa’. However, in 1999, Wales, who were the tournament hosts, were again drawn alongside the Islanders in the pool stage. The Welsh went into the game and asserted control early on as they were awarded two penalty tries. However, Samoa battled back with Silao Leaega touching down the decisive score in what was Wales’s first defeat at their new home, the Millennium Stadium.

2) France 30 Australia 24. 1987 World Cup (semi-final)

Pundits had predicted the final of the inaugural World Cup would come down to Australia and New Zealand, who were thought of as the two best teams in world rugby at that time. Therefore, nobody had given France a chance when they came up against the Wallabies in the semi-final, but in the end, after a close-fought contest it came down to a moment of brilliance from French fullback Serge Blanco. Despite a leg injury, he managed to outpace the Wallabies chasing him before touching down right in the corner.

1) South Africa 32 Japan 34, 2015 (Pool stage) 
Japan stunned South Africa to record the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history in Brighton this past weekend. The Cherry Blossoms, who had the opportunity to draw the game from the tee, bravely went in search of the winning try and got it through Karne Hesketh. Eddie Jones team performed exceptionally from start to finish and were well worth their win.


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