The Rugby World Cup is just around the corner and we’re all looking forward to seeing the best players strutting their stuff on the grandest stage.
Will New Zealand make it an unprecedented three World Cup triumphs in a row, can fallen southern hemisphere giants South Africa and Australia make an impact, or is there a chance of England repeating their 2003 heroics, or even Ireland and Wales staking a claim to becoming just the second winner from the northern hemisphere?
There’s been some terrific tries over the previous eight editions – 1,962 scored overall in fact – from a plethora of the game’s greats.
But which live longest in the memory? Without further ado, we maul over our best ever World Cup tries from 1-10.
1 ALAN CHARRON, Canada v Romania 1995
One of the greatest things about this try is it’s the best scored (well, our pick) on rugby’s greatest stage – and no-one outside of his home country has probably heard of the scorer, Charron.
He was, however, Canada’s third inductee into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017 – and we think he should be awarded that just on the basis of this score.
A clearance from Romania full-back Gheorghe Solomie was brilliantly picked off his boot straps by opposite number Scott Stewart.
A brilliant interchange between Dave Lougheed and Christian Stewart found Winston Stanley who popped inside to the onrushing flanker to surge over from the 22 for a quite brilliant score. It’s just a shame there were only 8,000 spectators inside Port Elizabeth’s Boet Erasmus Stadium to see it.
2 TAKUDZWA NGWENYA, USA v South Africa 2007
The first – and perhaps only – thing you need to know about this effort, is that Ngwenya made Bryan Habana look like a nursing home resident who’d just had a hip replacement as he breezed past him in a 2007 pool encounter.
The move started from the US’ own 22 and when Ngwenya received possession 50 yards out he had Habana ahead of him. He shaped to go inside before turning on the jets and burning arguably the greatest winger that’s ever played the game on the outside to score.
The Springboks sauntered to a comfortable 64-15 triumph, but the previously unheralded Ngwenya, 21 and uncapped before the tournament, made his mark.
The Zimbabwe-born speedster wasn’t even with a senior team before the World Cup, but moved to French giants Biarritz after.
3 STEPHEN JONES, Wales v England 2003
A sublime free-flowing move started and supplied by the twinkle-toed Shane Williams – in an ultimately jarring 28-17 quarter-final defeat to fierce old foes England in Brisbane.
Fielding a deep kick in his own 22, Williams shimmied past two would-be tacklers before sending scrum-half Gareth Cooper on his way.
Cooper handed off to Gareth Thomas who had Williams in support, but an ankle tap on Thomas saw the diminutive flyer forced to juggle the ball from a poor pass. He still managed to gather and fire a bullet pass inside to the supporting Jones, who had a simple task of dropping over the line.
4 JOHN KIRWAN, New Zealand v Italy 1987
Possibly the best solo try ever scored was also the first to ever be scored at a World Cup, setting an almost impossible standard. New Zealand winger John Kirwan was the third player to touch the ball from Italy’s kick-off, embarking on a dazzling run from the shadow of his own posts.
The blond-haired bomber beat almost the entire Azzurri team and was over the line within a matter of seconds, with barely a hand laid on him – one of two tries for him in a 70-6 victory that set the joint hosts on their way to lifting the inaugural Webb Ellis Trophy.
5 KOSUKE ENDO, Japan v Wales 2007
Kirwan, by now Japan coach, knew a thing or two about scoring excellent tries, especially at the World Cup, and he would have marvelled at this effort from his Brave Blossoms against Wales in Cardiff.
Much like his mazy effort against the Azzurri 20 years earlier (see above) this breathtaking length of the field effort lives long in the memory.
It began five metres from their own line with Japan stealing possession and launching a rapid counter-attack. Some lovely quick hands and a great take from Yuta Imamura put Endo in out wide and he was even too quick for speedy Shane Williams as he went over in the corner.
6 FEDERICO ARAMBURU, Argentina v France 2007
The Pumas were one of the success stories of the tournament – capped by this win to take third place from the formidable French, the host nation.
They’d only once previously gone beyond the group stage but sealed their best finish courtesy of this fine try. Full-back Ignacio Corleto collected Aurelien Rougerie’s chip and went on a mazy run into Les Bleus territory.
They kept the move alive when he ran into trouble, the key moment was Juan Martin Hernandez’s beautifully weighted hurled pass into the hands of Rimas Alvarez who then fed Aramburu to cut in and cross the whitewash.
Argentina – who’d beaten the French in the opening game of the tournament – strolled to a comfortable 34-10 victory that set the platform for the rising force they’ve become today.
7 GETHIN JENKINS, Wales v Namibia 2011
Who doesn’t love a big man getting in on the act? And, despite his physical presence and position as a prop, Jenkins made a name for himself throughout his decorated career – with 129 he has 14 more caps than any other Welshman – as a a mobile and agile ball carrier.
His tries (four) tended to come on the big stage – this one following his try in the 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam-clinching game against Ireland.
In the 81-7 pool annihilation of Namibia, Jenkins scored a try any of his illustrious backs colleagues – Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny or Jonathan Davies – would have been proud of. Jenkins sidestepped one opponent outside the 22, threw a brilliant show and go to another before bursting into space past two more and charging over the line despite the attention of three players trying to bring him to ground.
8 CHRISTOPHE LAMAISON, France v New Zealand 1999
A prime example of France’s unpredictable and bizarre tendency to switch from the brilliant to the bad came in their 1999 semi-final victory over the All Blacks.
Les Bleus outscored the Kiwis four tries to three in this blistering 43-31 victory, although they would go on to lose to Australia in the final, their second of three runners-up finishes.
Christophe Domenici tore the All Blacks apart as he left three tacklers for dead in a stunning run from halfway that deserved a try but took him to within a metre from the line. France recycled and a reverse pass found Lamaison who strolled over.
9 SERGE BLANCO, France v Australia 1987
An ugly, beautiful try that is among the most famous in World Cup history. This classic encounter in Sydney at the very first World Cup is also one of the greatest games in the tournament’s history, one capped by full-back Blanco’s manic, thrilling late score that put Les Bleus into the final.
France flowed forward but the ball was dropped and could have been intercepted or cleared on multiple occasions as play switched from the right to left touchline.
Eventually the ball was put in Blanco’s hands by Laurent Rodriguez and he dived over in the corner for a 30-24 win. France lost 29-9 to the All Blacks in the showpiece.
10 VILIMONI DELASAU, Fiji v Wales 2007
Another memorable moment from the 2007 tournament and yet one to forget for Wales.
Not only were Gareth Jenkins’ Dragons burnt by this superb try, but by the result too – with Fiji’s dramatic late 38-34 win sending them through to the knockouts, and their joint best ever finish of reaching the quarter-finals, while Wales went home.
In a dramatic game that see-sawed throughout Graham Dewes scored the seismic try three minutes from the end, but it was Delasau’s that had earlier caught the eye.
Winning a scrum in their own half Fiji moved the ball through the backs, Delasau pouncing on a handling error from Wales to gather out wide. He chipped over full-back Gareth Thomas and then enjoyed the benefit of the bounce, which eluded Mark Jones and landed in his grateful gasp, touching down for a memorable score.
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