Rugby WC: Greatest upsets

With the Rugby World Cup underway we've picked five of the biggest upsets ever recorded at the tournament,  including Japan's shock defeat of South Africa.

There have been quite a few surprise defeats in the RWC over the years and stretching all the way back to the inaugural tournament in 1987. Here are five of the biggest shocks:

1. South Africa 32 Japan 34: 2015 group stage

This is something that seems "impossible", but yet it happened in what is the unlikeliest result ever.

South Africa went into this match as two-time World Cup winners and third seeds against Japan, who had only ever won one World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Belfast in 1991. 

The physically smaller Japanese seemed to never give up and kept at the South African's the whole match, throwing themselves into tackles and being in the oppositions faces all game long.

When Japan's fullback Ayumu Goromaru scored a try late in the second half to tie the score at 29-29, South Africa then took the lead late in the game with a penalty and one felt that that was it. 

But not according to the Japanese side, who never gave up and worked their way up field and eventually won themselves a kickable penalty but instead of going for the draw (on two occasions) went for the win by opting for a five-metre scrum instead of a lineout.

After a few passes, the ball found replacement Karne Hesketh who stormed in on the opposite side of the field to score a try in the corner for the historic stunning win.

2. Wales 34 Fiji 38: 2007 group stage

This was a result that knocked Wales out of the World Cup at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes. The initial damage was done early in the first half when Fiji scored three tries in the space of 12-minutes through Akapusi Qera, winger Vilimoni Delasau and lock Kele Leawere to go into the 25-3 lead. 

Just before half-time Wales scored with a try by Alix Popham. In the second half, the Welsh would eventually lead thanks to tries by Shane Williams, Gareth Thomas and Mark Jones, and when Nicky Little scored another it looked all over for Fiji. 

But the islanders kept fighting and a try four minutes from time by Semisi Naevo got his team into the quarter-finals.

3. Tonga 19 France 14: 2011 pool match

The French may have looked destined for an easy win, but many of the Tongan players played their rugby in France and knew precisely how to handle the favourites. 

The Tongan's were in the French side's faces right from kick off and they also dominated the scrum thanks to the likes of hooker Aleki Lutui and prop Alisona Taumalolo. 

Winger Suka Hufanga got his side's only try and Kurt Morath kicked four penalties and also missed four, but Tonga did enough on the day to cause a big shock against an undisciplined French outfit.

4. France 43 All Blacks 31: 1999 semi-final

This was one of those results which did not seem possible seeing as the All Blacks had beaten France by 50 points a few months earlier.

Two tries by Jonah Lomu gave his side a 24-10 lead. And the feeling was that New Zealand would run away with the game during the second, but France had other ideas. 

They scored 26 points in 13 minutes, playing with the magnificent flair that only the French seem to do when playing well. Two drop goals, four conversions, three penalties and a try by Christophe Lamaison gave him personally 28 points to end up shocking the World Cup favourites in London.

5. South Africa 15 All Blacks 12: 1995 World Cup final

What made this different was that South Africa were appearing in their first World Cup back on the world stage after being in sporting isolation due to apartheid, including playing in front of newly-elected president Nelson Mandela. 

Going into the final the All Blacks had looked unstoppable with Jonah Lomu scoring four tries against England in the semi-final while South Africa battled to a close 19-15 win over France.

This was a close match with no tries scored, the South African's tackled exceptionally and played above themselves and in the end it was a drop goal by Joel Stransky that gave the Springboks a win that very few thought possible.

Comments