08 October 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld

The Best Tries in Rugby World Cup History

After All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara’s breath-taking try against Namibia at the weekend, Quintin van Jaarsveld lists his best tries in Rugby World Cup history.

Classic tries are rugby at its finest, the ultimate highlight of the oval ball game. Whether its symbiotic synergy that sees a side move as one or individual brilliance that unlock the defence, nothing tops a terrific try. The World Cup has consistently produced some of the greatest-ever five-pointers over the years and the ninth edition in Japan has been no different.

Perenara’s pulsating try in the All Blacks’ 71-9 trouncing of Namibia in their Pool B clash in Tokyo on Sunday has been the talk of the rugby world and rightfully so. It’s unquestionably the frontrunner for Try of the Tournament honours and ranks right up there as one of the best of all-time.

After taking a deep dive into the World Cup archives, here’s my list – in chronological order – of the 10 greatest tries in the history of the tournament.

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John Kirwan, New Zealand v Italy, Opening Match – 1987

The godfather of classic tournament tries, Kirwan set the bar with this long-range pearler in the first-ever World Cup match. Regarded by many as the best individual try ever at a World Cup, the All Blacks wing set off in his 22 and sliced through the entire Italy defence as he lit up Auckland in the co-hosts’ 70-6 win.

Serge Blanco, France v Australia, Semi-Finals – 1987

A timeless try that encapsulates the term French flair and booked Les Bleus’ place in the final. The interplay between the forwards and backs was otherworldly, especially at the time. Blanco showed in the Sydney humdinger exactly why he was one of the greatest of all-time and the French fullback’s commitment to beat the desperate Wallaby cover defence was the cherry on top of the mouth-watering touchdown.

David Kirk, New Zealand v France, Final – 1987

Captain Kirk sealed the All Blacks’ place in history as inaugural world champions with a superb scrumhalf score at Eden Park. A sweeping set-up, Grant Fox found Michael Jones cutting inside, with the loose forward linking up with Kirk who darted through a last-ditch tackle attempt to go over in the corner and put the result out of question. Kirk, rather fittingly, became the first player to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after New Zealand’s emphatic 29-9 triumph.

Pieter Hendricks, South Africa v Australia, Opening Match – 1995

Nothing flashy but the first-ever and most iconic Springbok World Cup try. The highlight of Hendricks’ career, the bulky left-wing stepped off the right foot and left legendary Wallaby David Campese for dead at Newlands.

The image of Hendricks fist-pumping en route to crossing the whitewash is forever ingrained in the minds of South African supporters. The importance of this try added to it making my top 10 as it turned the tournament opener on its head and set the Springboks on course for their transcendent title triumph.

Jonah Lomu, New Zealand v England, Semi-Finals – 1995

The human bulldozer at his absolute best. Few tries are more iconic than Lomu’s rampaging touchdown after trampling poor Mike Catt at Newlands. The All Blacks great singlehandedly decimated shell-shocked England, scoring four tries in the 45-29 semi-final rout to solidify himself as rugby’s first true superstar.

Christophe Lamaison, France v New Zealand, Semi-Finals – 1999

October 31, 1999 – the day France shocked the world as they knocked the All Blacks out of the tournament with a thrilling 43-31 win in the semi-final showdown at Twickenham. Chalk this one up to wing Christophe Dominici, who got the ball rolling for the epic upset with his fancy footwork before being stopped metres short of the tryline by Christian Cullen. With New Zealand struggling to scramble back, it was an easy run-in for flyhalf Lamaison to score France’s first try.

Stephen Jones, Wales v England, Quarter-Finals – 2003

The moment Shane Williams announced himself to the world, the Welsh pocket rocket sparked this banger in Brisbane when he fielded a kick just outside his 22 and beat two England defenders with what would become his trademark dancing feet before putting Gareth Cooper into space. The scrumhalf found Gareth Thomas who popped it to Williams, who juggled and flung the final ball to flyhalf Jones.

Kosuke Endo, Japan v Wales, Pool Stages – 2007

An unforgettable five-pointer that put the brave in Brave Blossoms. Fearless and fluid, Japan launched a counter-attack inside their 22, catching Wales unawares. Combining brilliantly, Japan seamlessly went from one side of the pitch to the other, with winger Endo running onto a perfect pass from Yuta Imamura to finish off a tremendous team try in Cardiff.

Takudzwa Ngwenya, USA v South Africa, Pool Stages, 2007

In a star-making moment in Montpellier, unknown Zimbabwean-born Ngwenya smoked Bryan Habana, one of the fastest men to ever don the Green and Gold, in the first-ever fixture between the Springboks and the Eagles.

Started by an intercept by Todd Clever some six metres from USA’s tryline, the ball found its way to the right-wing, who backed himself and burned the 2007 IRB Player of the Year. The remarkable run-in would go on to be recognised as the inaugural IRPA Try of the Year.

TJ Perenara, New Zealand v Namibia, Pool Stages – 2019

The try that inspired this feature, the All Blacks dished up a vintage try against the bamboozled Namibians, taking it through the hands from a ruck just outside their 22, with replacement scrumhalf Perenara creating and finishing fantastically in the dying moments of the Tokyo Test.

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