The Daily Top 5 highlights the greatest Rugby World Cup finals in history – and haven’t there been some rippers!
TOP FIVE RUGBY WORLD CUP FINALS
5. 1991 – Australia 12 d. England 6
Australia secured their maiden World Cup title after hosts England tried to beat the Wallabies at their own game. The dour Will Carling-led outfit abandoned its forward-oriented, percentages game to throw the ball around at every opportunity – and it backfired. Australia led 12-3 after a first-half try to prop Tony Daly and comfortably closed out the match.
4. 1987 – New Zealand 29 d. France 9 at Eden Park Auckland
The only World Cup final to feature more than two tries, the inaugural decider was one-sided but entertaining. Young flanker Michael Jones scored the only try of the first half, before captain David Kirk and flashy winger John Kirwan put the result beyond doubt at 29-3. Pierre Berbizier scored a consolation try in the latter stages for France.
3. 2011 – New Zealand 8 d. France 7 at Eden Park, Auckland
The All Blacks pumped France 37-17 and were supposed to breeze to victory in the final after dumping the Wallabies out of the semis. But Les Bleus had other ideas, playing like men possessed in the most tense game of rugby imaginable. Tony Woodcock scored for the hosts after 15 minutes, while unlikely hero Steven Donald – the fourth-string flyhalf after Dan Carter and Colin Slade broke down mid-tournament, and starter Aaron Cruden left the field before halftime – buried a long-range penalty goal in the 46th minute. French captain Thierry Dusautoir scored almost immediately afterwards, however, setting up a nerve-shredding final half-hour.
2. 1995 – South Africa 15 d. New Zealand 12 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg (ET)
An extraordinary, try-less encounter, the Springboks stopped the rampant All Blacks in their tracks via a supreme defensive performance and the boot of No.10 Joel Stransky. The hosts led 9-6 at halftime, but an Andrew Mehrtens penalty was the only score of the second stanza as the match went into extra-time. Both sides added a penalty in the added period, before Stransky slotted the decisive drop goal.
1. 2003 – England 20 d. Australia 17 at Stadium Australia, Sydney (ET)
Another extra-time epic, England finally broke their World Cup duck with a drop goal to the incomparable Jonny Wilkinson. Lote Tuqiri climbed over fellow league convert Jason Robinson to open the scoring for the Wallabies in just the sixth minute, but Wilkinson booted the Poms into the lead with three penalties and laid on a try for Robinson to send the visitors into halftime ahead 14-5. Elton Flatley’s three penalties were the only scores of the second half, the last coming just before fulltime to send the match into an extra 20 minutes. Wilkinson and Flatley traded penalties in the added period to lock the scores up again at 17-all, before the England No.10 split the goal posts with his unforgettable 100th-minute drop goal.