Every single time over the past eight Rugby World Cup Tournaments, there have been specific teams which were without a doubt the favourites to win the Webb Ellis trophy. They are considered the leading organizations, and whether it is with love or hate, the globe acknowledges their greatness on the field. There have been many surprises over time too. Once again Japan reminded us that sometimes the underdog could surprise us when they defeated the much more favoured Ireland. Reflecting on five of these unexpected events, it is clear that some teams need more recognition than what they get.
Japan Beating Ireland – Hosting country, Japan managed to take the world by surprise when they defeated Ireland, currently second-ranked in the world. By half-time, Ireland was in the lead, only slightly and with far less of an advantage as that viewers have expected, but during the second half the sunset on Ireland and Japan roared to victory. For especially South African supporters, this was a déjà vu moment. Only this time around the green jerseys didn’t reflect the Springbok emblem.
Japan Defeats the Springboks – This was by far the biggest World Cup shock in 2015. More than that it was probably also the biggest stir in Test union rugby history. The Cherry Blossoms was under the guidance of Eddie Jones, and they didn’t bend their knee before the mighty Springboks, leaving the Boks defeated and embarrassed.
Fiji defeats Wales – Wales was kicked out of the tournament by none other than the underdogs from Fiji. This was the third time that Wales had to endure embarrassment from the South Sea Islands. During 1991 and 1999 it was the Samoans who forced the Welsh to bend their knees before their rugby superiority. During half-time already, the strong Welsh team were on their knees with a 25-10 score on the board. Then they fought back and were convinced of a win, but Graham Dewes, prop to the Fiji team muscled up for a last-minute score and Fiji went to the quarter-finals.
Western Samoa Crushing Wales – This legendary moment meant that for the first time in World Cup history, one of the leading nations in the world of rugby was defeated by a rank outsider. The Samoan team included names which later on became very familiar like that of Pat Lam, Brian Lima and Frank Bunce and they demolished the already bruised Welsh squad in front of a packed audience at Cardiff Arms Park.
France Defeating the All Blacks – Whether you want to call this a spectacular moment or some French flair, this game is serving until today as a reference to what can happen. The All Blacks were ahead with 24-10 by half-time, but the second half became an epic battle for the French when they started raking in some great tries.