World Cup - Top 10: World Cup shocks
We look at the Top 10 shocks in World Cup history.
The Wallabies were favourites to win the inaugural tournament , but the usually reliable Michael Lynagh missed some vital goalkicks when they were ahead in this memorable semi-final and the French made them pay with a dazzling try in the final seconds from Serge Blanco after 11 players had handled the ball.
Australia 21 Wales 22 (Rotorua, 1987)
Shaken by France in the semi-finals, the Wallabies suffered an even bigger disappointment in their next match, the third-place play-off, having David Codey sent off after four minutes and then going down to an injury-hit Welsh side, who squeezed home thanks to Paul Thorburn’s superb late conversion of Adrian Hadley’s try in the corner.
Wales 13 Western Samoa 16 (Cardiff, 1991)
This mother of all shocks coined the joke ‘Thank heavens Wales weren’t playing the whole of Samoa’! It was the Pacific islanders’ Rugby World Cup debut, but they weren’t fazed by playing in the Cardiff cauldron and inflicted the most embarrassing defeat on Wales in their history, a Mathew Vaea penalty proving decisive.
The All Blacks were red-hot favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for a second time after pulverising all and sundry on the way to the final, but the New Zealand points machine ground to a halt against watertight Springbok defence, allowing Joel Stransky to seal victory with an extra-time drop-goal.
Wales 31 Samoa 38 (Cardiff, 1999)
Not quite the shock of eight years earlier, but still a major surprise as Wales saw a run of 10 successive wins ended by the exciting Samoans, who lit up the Pool D clash with five tries, although they were helped by 12 Welsh handling errors and three turnovers.
With most pundits predicting Ireland to win this quarter-final play-off, the Pumas upset the formbook to reach the knockout stage for the first time. Winger Diego Albanese’s 75th-minute try decided a battle of the boot between Argentina’s Gonzalo Quesada, who notched 23 points, and David Humphreys, who was Ireland’s sole scorer.
France 43 New Zealand 31 (Twickenham, 1999)
Arguably the greatest match in Rugby World Cup history. France weren’t given a prayer beforehand after stuttering through their early games, but they derailed the overwhelming tournament favourites in the semi-finals thanks to a stunning second-half comeback. Trailing 24-10, Les Bleus were inspired by Christophe Lamaison, who contributed 28 points.
France 12 Argentina 17 (Paris, 2007)
A tournament of upsets kicked off with a massive one in the opening match, the Pumas inflicting France’s first ever pool defeat in the Rugby World Cup. In an encounter dominated by goalkickers Felipe Contepomi (Argentina) and David Skrela (France), Ignacio Corleto scored the game’s only try in the first half.
Fiji 38 Wales 34 (Nantes, 2007)
Fiji had reached the quarter-finals only once before, but their late, late show thwarted a sensational fightback by Wales and earned them a surprise place in the last eight. Fiji were cruising at 25-3, but Wales rallied thrillingly to edge ahead 29-25 and then 34-31, only for Graham Dewes to grab the match-winning try.
France 20 New Zealand 18 (Cardiff, 2007)
The All Blacks again succumbed to rank outsiders France in the knockout stage, this time in the quarter-finals. Once more Les Bleus saved their best performance for the world number one side, recovering from a 13-3 half-time deficit thanks to tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion, although the second contained a forward pass.