Arguably the most epic July Test window ever delivered four thrilling North versus South series, historic triumphs, and classic scores writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects his 10 best tries.
The Home Nations came to play in their respective summer series down South. Rugby lovers largely have them to thank for turning the usually one-sided mid-year Tests into a three-week feast of unpredictable, action-packed, and heart-pumping theatre.
Aside from the three-Test Springboks-Wales, All Blacks-Ireland, Wallabies-England, and Pumas-Argentina wars that went down to the wire, France had a fruitful trip to Japan, while Tier 2 nations battled it out for places in next year’s World Cup. It’s one of those small dogs who barked the loudest in terms of producing the most spectacular five-pointer of the frame.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 tries of the July internationals:
10: Boffelli Breaks Scottish Hearts
The single most significant try on the list. Seconds away from a series loss in Santiago del Estero, the Pumas managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with their final roll of the dice from an attacking 5m scrum as they worked the ball wide to Emiliano Boffelli, who stepped inside Blair Kinghorn and scored in the corner to win the game and the series in dramatic fashion.
9: Moefana Magic
Matthieu Jalibert finessed the Japanese defence in Toyota with a drift line and perfectly-timed pass that freed up Yoram Moefana. The midfielder made the most of the opportunity in style, chipping, grabbing the ball on the second bounce, and rushing over with two defenders on him.
8: French Force
Earlier in the above-mentioned clash, Moefana showed that while France are known for their flair, they boast firepower as well as he bulldozed Seungshin Lee and linked up with midfield partner Virimi Vakatawa, who put Damian Penaud in for his second of the match.
7: Red Alert
Refusing to lay down in their series decider in Cape Town, Wales washed over the Springbok try line with Nick Tompkins taking a pass from Dan Biggar on his toes, drawing in Cheslin Kolbe, and firing the ball to Josh Adams, who was denied by Damian Willemse but managed to pop an offload to hard-working Tommy Reffell to score his first Test try.
6: Smooth As Silk
The third of their four tries in their historic series-winning triumph in Wellington was Ireland at their silky smooth finest, two strong carries over the gain line followed by fantastically fluid handling and decision-making for Robbie Henshaw to deliver a hammer blow and make the All Blacks look ordinary.
5: Hit For Six
Wallabies wrecking ball Marika Koroibete showed the evolution of his game to create a cracking long-range set-piece try at the Sydney Cricket Ground, busting out of a tackle and then throwing a spiralling 15-metre ball for fellow flyer Tom Wright, who went on to finish following a one-two with Nic White.
4: Red And White Delight
Gerhard van den Heever played a pivotal part in the first of two tantalising team tries Japan scored against France in Tokyo. The South African import started the sequence and worked hard off the ball to run onto a ridiculous offload by Dylan Riley before popping the final pass to Ryohei Yamanaka.
3: Phenomenal First Impression
You only get one chance to make a good first impression and they don’t come much better than this tremendous effort by Henry Arundell. Making his England debut off the pine in Perth, the 19-year-old blasted through both Andrew Kellaway and Noah Lolesio and juked James O’Connor to score with his first touch of the ball.
2: Brave Blossoms At Their Best
Fast hands, with hooker and captain Atsushi Sakate deserving special praise, a fantastic flick-back by Shogo Nakona to keep play alive, the wherewithal of veteran Michael Leitch to sell a dummy, and stellar support play by Ryohei Yamanaka to be on hand to provide the finish, this phenomenal score against Les Bleus in Tokyo was Japanese rugby at its finest.
1: Red Hot Chile Pepper
Chile flyhalf Rodrigo Fernández scored one of the greatest individual tries you’ll ever see in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying tie against USA at a muddy Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago. Channelling his inner John Kirwan, Fernández fielded a kick inside his own half and blazed a mind-blowing trial to the try line, leaving several defenders in his wake.