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Who takes gold, silver and bronze in our all-time Rugby World Cup final moments?

30 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Who takes gold, silver and bronze in our all-time Rugby World Cup final moments?

In the last instalment of a special series, we look back on the greatest moments from the biggest game in rugby - recreated like never before

With two-time world champions Australia and New Zealand taking on one another in the Rugby World Cup final for the very first time on Saturday, expectations are high ahead of what promises to be an enthralling game.

But even the two most entertaining sides in the world would have to produce something special to top the most iconic finals that have gone before them.

Here’s our top three moments in the history of the tournament to decide the destination of the sport’s biggest prize.

3. Tony Woodcock try for New Zealand v France (2011)

Despite starting virtually every tournament as favourites, it had been nearly a quarter of a century since New Zealand had lifted the Webb Ellis trophy by the time they hosted the 2011 edition.

Having successfully negotiated the perilous knock-out stages that had proved their downfall every four years before, the All Blacks faced old foes France in the final at Eden Park – just like they had done in 1987.

But despite triumphing on that occasion, New Zealand had more painful memories of taking on Les Bleus having suffered shocked defeats against them in both 1999 and 2007.

Yet with just quarter of an hour gone, a perfectly executed training-ground move saw the most unlikely of scorers settle the hosts’ nerves. woodcockWith remarkable composure in the most pressurised of circumstances, the All Blacks threw a line-out 10 metres from the try line to Jerome Kaino at the back.

With the French forwards backtracking in preparation for the expected drive, the flanker then popped the ball straight down for Tony Woodcock to charge through the resulting hole in the middle of the French line and slide over.

Later revealed to be called ‘Teabag’ – Woodcock’s nickname – the expertly-executed move provided the decisive moment in an otherwise scrappy final as New Zealand ran out 8-7 winners to end their World Cup heartbreak.  

2. Joel Stransky drop goal for South Africa v New Zealand (1995)

Having been excluded from the first two Rugby World Cups due to the apartheid laws of their government, South Africa had to wait until 1995 to make their bow at the tournament as the host nation.

After defeating defending champions Australia in the opening game, the Springboks topped their pool before overcoming Western Samoa and France to reach the final at their first attempt, where they met New Zealand.

Ahead of the most eagerly awaited game in the country’s history, the anticipation among the crowd was intensified moments before kick-off when a South African Airways Boeing 747 passenger jet flew low over the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg with a “Good luck Bokke” message of support painted on its underside.

Yet the match failed to live up to expectation, with the teams tied at 9-9 after 80 minutes of an attritional game. stranskyBoth sides traded penalties during extra-time, but with seven minutes left they were finally separated by the match-winning moment.

Receiving the ball from the back of a scrum 30 metres out, fly-half Joel Stransky set himself before sending a mammoth drop goal sailing high over the posts give South Africa a crucial lead which they would protect until the end.

The match would ultimately be remembered for the iconic presentation where, wearing a Springbok shirt, Nelson Mandela – just one year after being elected as South Africa’s first black president following his release from Robben Island – handed over the trophy to the team’s white Afrikaans captain Francois Pienaar.  

However, without Stansky’s drop goal, arguably the most iconic moment in Rugby World Cup history would never have happened.

1. Jonny Wilkinson drop goal for England v Australia (2003)

Having already beaten all of their rivals on both sides of the world in the 12 months before, England headed into the 2003 tournament as the number-one ranked side in the world.

Yet in order to claim a first World Cup crown for the Northern Hemisphere, they would need to overcome hosts Australia on their own soil.

After falling behind to an early score from Lote Tuqiri, England responded with a well-worked try of their own to put Jason Robinson over in the corner two minutes before the break to carve out a 14-5 half-time lead.

But the boot of Elton Flatley continued to chip away at their advantage throughout the second half, before a penalty in the final minute of the match saw Australia take the game to extra time. wilkoWith the score tied at 17-17, a line-out inside the Australia half gave England the platform they needed to win the match.

Steve Thompson threw to the back to ensure the ball was as far infield as possible before Matt Dawson took advantage of an over-eager defence with a dart from the resulting ruck to make some more valuable metres.

With Dawson stuck under a pile of bodies, captain Martin Johnson made one more carry to ensure that his scrum-half could deliver the crucial pass to Jonny Wilkinson, who was waiting in the pocket.

Having already missed with two earlier attempts, the player of the tournament made no mistake on his weaker right foot to send the ball over the posts and provide the most thrilling of all finishes.

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