Top 5 Upsets in the History of Rugby

Upsets in the History of Rugby
This sport has had its fair share of upsets.

All sports are filled with jaw dropping upsets, & Rugby is no exception. In the last few years this sport has witnessed groundbreaking changes. From unsuspecting upsets to outrageous fan behavior, Rugby continues to steal the show. Originating from humble beginnings, this sport has rapidly evolved into a global spectacle. All this drama & excitement is what makes this sport a favorite around the world. From South Africa to Australia, fans passionately cheer on their teams as they fight for victory.

These epic showdowns are what make Rugby the infamous attraction that it is today. Without these wild surprises, the sport wouldn’t be worth watching. For this reason we are highlighting the top 5 upsets in the history of Rugby. Sit back & prepare to be blown away by these incredible feats!

Upsets in the History of Rugby

Rugby, like any other sport, has seen its fair share of upsets where the underdog triumphs against a stronger opponent. These surprising outcomes often add drama and excitement to the game. Here are some notable upsets in the history of rugby:

  1. Japan vs. South Africa (2015 Rugby World Cup):
    • One of the most famous upsets in rugby history occurred during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Japan, ranked as a tier two team, defeated the two-time World Cup champions South Africa in a pool-stage match. The game, known as the “Miracle of Brighton,” saw Japan secure a last-minute try to win 34-32.
  2. Argentina vs. New Zealand (2020 Tri-Nations):
    • In the 2020 Tri-Nations tournament, Argentina claimed a historic victory over New Zealand. Despite being heavy underdogs, Argentina won the match 25-15 in Sydney. It was their first-ever win against the All Blacks in 30 attempts.
  3. Ireland vs. New Zealand (2016):
    • In a historic win, Ireland defeated New Zealand for the first time in 111 years of rugby encounters. The match took place in Chicago in 2016, and Ireland emerged victorious with a score of 40-29.
  4. France vs. New Zealand (1999 Rugby World Cup):
    • In the 1999 Rugby World Cup semifinal, France stunned the rugby world by defeating the defending champions New Zealand. The French team won 43-31 in a thrilling encounter.
  5. Wales vs. England (2019 Six Nations):
    • During the 2019 Six Nations Championship, Wales came from behind to beat England 21-13. This victory secured the Grand Slam for Wales and added to the longstanding rivalry between the two nations.
  6. Samoa vs. Wales (1991 Rugby World Cup):
    • In the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Samoa caused an upset by defeating Wales in a pool-stage match. It was Samoa’s first-ever win in a Rugby World Cup, and they won 16-13.
  7. France vs. New Zealand (2007 Rugby World Cup):
    • In the quarterfinals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, France upset New Zealand with a 20-18 victory. The French team went on to reach the final.
  8. Scotland vs. England (1990 Calcutta Cup):
    • In 1990, Scotland secured an unexpected victory over England at Murrayfield, winning 13-7. This match is remembered for the famous “Grand Slam Dunk” try by Scottish player Tony Stanger.

These upsets are a testament to the unpredictability of sports and the competitive nature of rugby. They highlight that on any given day, a determined underdog can emerge victorious against a stronger opponent.

5 of the Most Shocking Rugby Upsets

Japan’s victory sent shockwaves throughout the rugby community.

Upset #1: Japan vs South Africa 2015 – Everyone who attended this game thought the match was a given. Japan had a horrible history of losing & in the last 20 years they had only won one match in the finals against Zimbabwe. They seemed to be doomed to repeat this vicious cycle when they faced South Africa. On top of being almost twice their size, South Africa was renown as double champions & leaders in the sport. All that changed with this fateful match. To everyone’s surprise, Japan diligently held their ground. They repeatedly out-performed their competition with clever field work & outrageous runs. By the end of the game fans couldn’t believe their eyes. Japan stood victorious with 34 points while South Africa hung their heads in shame with a measly 32 points!

Upset #2: France vs Australia 1987 – If you asked any die hard fan, Australia was destined to face off with New Zealand in the final. However, France was determined to change the script. They fought tooth & nail with the Aussies. This ferocious display of audacity reversed Australia’s 24-21 lead with a surprise attack. After a much needed penalty & a few surprising plays France emerged victorious. This was a devastating blow since it happened in Sydney. After that the Aussies struggled to recover, & ended up losing to Whales in the bronze medal match.

Upset #3: Fiji vs Wales 2007 – The results of this emotional game caused an international frenzy. During most of the match, Wales was running the show. They valiantly fought back from a huge deficit, but unfortunately Fiji had a few tricks up their sleeves. Graham Dewes stole the victory right out of Wale’s hands with a shocking score. This created a thunder storm of controversy which lead to Wales coach Gareth Jenkins getting sacked. From then on, a fierce rivalry was born. Even though Wales avenged this painful loss with an intense 60-0 hammering in 2011, the scars still remain.

Upset #4: Argentina vs Ireland 1999 – This historic match set the stage for los Pumas. After enduring being the laughing stock of the entire rugby community for nearly a decade, it was finally Argentina’s time to shine. They took Ireland by storm, plowed past them & rushed into the 1999 quarter finals. This victory paved the way for them to face off against France. Even though Argentina ended up losing, they had their sweet revenge when they beat France in the quarter finals in 2007.

Upset #5: Tonga vs France 2011 – Tonga gave rugby one of its biggest wake up calls when they toppled France. This incredible victory led Tonga straight into the finals. How a team could rise out of obscurity & defeat one of the most respected powerhouses in the league defied reason. But that’s the beauty of rugby, its anyone’s game. In the end it doesn’t matter how notorious or highly decorated a team is, no one is immune to defeat.