WATCH: The top 5 tries of the Rugby World Cup
Heading into the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia, 263 tries have been scored by the 20 teams
There were better tries at this tournament than Karne Hesketh’s injury-time clincher for Japan against South Africa, but none as seismic. When the replacement back held off Springboks winger JP Pietersen to cross in the left corner, Brighton Community Stadium erupted and the rugby world shook after the biggest upset in the history of the sport. Japan’s players collapsed to the ground in a mixture of joy and disbelief. Rugby has never seen anything like it.
Wales were trailing by seven points against England with nine minutes left and attempting to cope with an injury crisis in their already depleted back division. A scrumhalf was on the left wing, a right wing was at centre, and a flyhalf was at fullback. Still, the Welsh conjured up a game-changing try of improvised brilliance as Lloyd Williams — that out-of-position scrum-half — was given an overlap by Jamie Roberts, shot down the left wing, and center-kicked to turn the covering English defense. Starting scrumhalf Gareth Davies sprinted and gathered the loose ball at his knees and dived with a defender on his back between the posts. England were stunned, the momentum was with the Welsh, and they were kicked to victory by flyhalf Dan Biggar — with a little help from an interesting lineout call by Chris Robshaw.
Fiji won many fans, but few points, with their courageous displays in the toughest pool of the Rugby World Cup. They may also have scored the most aesthetically pleasing try of the tournament, against Wales in Cardiff. It started 70 metres out, with a handoff by winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma on prop Gethin Jenkins inside Fiji’s 22. Tikoirotuma burst through, and after a couple more one-handed offloads, a rampaging Vereniki Goneva cut inside 10 meters out and forced his way over the line. Even Wales fans were off their seats, applauding.
Not since Jonah Lomu in 1995 has the Rugby World Cup witnessed a try of such stunning ferocity by a winger as Julian Savea’s against France in the quarter-finals. Collecting a pass 20 metres out on the left wing, Savea had one thing on his mind: “I was eager to get to the tryline, no matter what ... no matter the obstacles.”So he barged through opposite winger Noa Nakaitaci, bashed down fullback Scott Spedding, and handed off prop Rabah Slimani to ground in the left corner. It was enough to bring New Zealand coaches Steve Hansen and Ian Foster to their feet in the coaches’ box and there was an audible gasp around Millennium Stadium.
This was the try to complete Adam Ashley-Cooper’s hat trick in Australia’s semifinal win over Argentina, but all the kudos went to his fellow winger. The Pumas were seven points adrift and piling pressure on when Drew Mitchell burst down the left touchline from behind halfway, stepped inside, and crabbed his way across field to beat six defenders. At the last moment, he released a pass — with a hint of forward about it — to the right wing, where Ashley-Cooper picked up the ball on its second bounce and crossed untouched. For Argentina, the game was up.