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An image showing Jonah Lomu, Jonny Wilkinson and Nelson Mandela

5 Unforgettable Moments in Rugby World Cup History

The Rugby World Cup, a quadrennial celebration of the sport’s finest talent and fierce competition, has given us countless unforgettable moments over the years. From stunning upsets to heart-stopping finishes, here are five moments that have left an indelible mark on the tournament’s history:

#1 Jonny Wilkinson’s Drop Goal (2003): A Historic Triumph

In the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, England faced off against Australia in a thrilling match that would eventually be decided by a single drop goal. With the scores tied in extra time, English fly-half Jonny Wilkinson calmly slotted a drop goal from an almost impossible angle, securing England’s first-ever World Cup victory. This moment not only etched Wilkinson’s name into rugby folklore but also showcased the game’s intense drama and pressure-packed situations.


#2 The Miracle of Brighton (2015): Japan’s Unforgettable Upset

In one of the most shocking upsets in Rugby World Cup history, Japan pulled off a remarkable victory over South Africa during the 2015 tournament. Against all odds, the Japanese team, known as the Brave Blossoms, displayed incredible heart and skill to secure a last-minute try and win by a single point. This victory not only highlighted the sport’s global growth but also underlined the power of determination and teamwork.


#3 Nelson Mandela Presents the Trophy (1995): A Symbol of Unity

The 1995 Rugby World Cup holds a special place in history as it marked a significant moment for post-apartheid South Africa. The sight of President Nelson Mandela, wearing the Springboks jersey, presenting the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar was a powerful symbol of unity and reconciliation for the nation. This event showcased how sports can transcend politics and promote positive change.


#4 Lomu’s Dominance (1995 and 1999): Rugby’s Unstoppable Force

Jonah Lomu’s performances during the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cups redefined what was possible for a winger. The New Zealand powerhouse’s incredible speed, strength, and skill saw him score a total of 15 tries across both tournaments. His performances not only showcased individual brilliance but also highlighted the evolving athleticism and diversity of rugby players on the global stage.


#5 France beats New Zealand in the 1999 semi-final.

France beat New Zealand in the 1999 semi-final. This was one of the biggest upsets in Rugby World Cup history. The All Blacks were the defending champions and heavy favorites, but they were stunned by a French team that played out of their skins. France won 43-31, and the match is still remembered as one of the greatest finals in tournament history.

In conclusion, the Rugby World Cup has gifted us with a treasure trove of memorable moments that have defined the sport’s history. From historic victories to displays of sheer athleticism, these moments remind us why rugby holds a special place in the hearts of fans worldwide.

As we look ahead to this year’s Rugby World Cup, we can only anticipate the emergence of new unforgettable moments that will continue to shape the legacy of this remarkable event.

For everything about the Rugby World Cup 2023 check out our guide here.

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