The Top 5 Greatest Rugby Upsets

by Adam Clark August 15, 2014

Following Ireland beating New Zealand 17-14 in the Women’s Rugby World Cup, it got us thinking, what have been greatest international rugby upsets of all time? After a bit of deliberation we came up with our Top 5…

1)   Scotland 9 – 8 Australia, 2009 

Scotland recorded their first win against Australia since 1982 in what was only Andy Robinson’s second game in charge. Matt Giteau missed a makeable conversion to win the game in what proved to be the last kick of the match, causing wild celebrations at Murrayfield. After the match, Robinson described the game as being "the most courageous performance that I have ever been involved with.” This match will certainly go down as one of the greatest upsets in Scottish rugby history.


2)   Fiji 38 – 34 Wales, 2007 World Cup

Fiji managed to secure a quarter-final place in 2007 World Cup with a memorable victory over Wales. Fiji had a terrific first half and were leading 25-10 going into half time. Shane Williams scored a wonderful individual try just after the break and Martyn Williams crashed over to give Wales the lead with six minutes remaining. However, Fiji prop Graham Dewes scored the ninth and final try of the game to give them the victory. The result knocked Wales out of the tournament and lead to the sacking of head coach Gareth Jenkins.

3)   France 43 – 31 New Zealand, 1999 World Cup

New Zealand were the strong favourites going into this semi-final encounter and they comfortably led 24-10 early in the second half, making the result for Les Bleus even more remarkable. France fly-half Christophe Lamaison inspired his nation to victory over the All Blacks by scoring 28 of the 43 points which led to a standing ovation of the 75,000 fans at Twickenham at the end of the match. 

4)   Munster 12 – 0 New Zealand, Thomond Park 1978

Going along with the theme of an Irish side beating a New Zealand side, this supposed “friendly” match was anything but. The all blacks were expected to beat the Irish club side with ease but the match result was a different story. A try by Christy Cantillon and 8 points from the boot of Tony Ward, all to no answer, resulted in the only match in which any Irish side has beaten the All Blacks. Munster were so strong against a near full-strength All Blacks squad that they inspired the quote “We were lucky to get nil” from All Blacks back Stu Wilson. There has since been a play and a book written about the match!

5)   Samoa 38 – 31 Wales, Millennium Stadium 1999

Samoa visited Wales’ almost brand new Millennium Stadium and became the first visiting team to earn a victory there. Samoa scored 5 tries with a vast array of running rugby. Samoan full back Silao Leaega scored 18 points through try and boot with fly half Stephen Bachop scoring two tries himself. In this test Wales’ Neil Jenkins also became test rugby’s highest ever points scorer but the title was tarnished somewhat by the defeat.

Think we’ve missed any big upsets? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Adam Clark
Adam Clark


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