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Japan blossom into giant killers

Rugby World Cup 2015 exploded into life as Japan beat South Africa 34-32. The Japanese caught the imagination of the nation.

The Blossoming Giant Killers


In light of Japan’s heroics we’ve taken a look at some of the biggest upsets at Rugby World Cups to see how it compares.

South Africa 15 New Zealand 12: 1995 final

New Zealand have been favourites for every World Cup since 1991 and crushed all before them en route to meeting South Africa in the 1995 finale.

Jonah Lomu was unstoppable and scored four tries against England in the semis, but South Africa refused to bow down to the winger as Joel Stransky nailed a drop goal in extra-time. It set up one of the defining sporting moments as Nelson Mandela handed the trophy to Francois Pienaar in a show of unity for the country.

Wales 31 Samoa 38: 1999 group stage

“Thank heavens Wales weren’t playing the whole of Samoa”, came the quip following a 16-13 defeat to Samoa in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. Eight years later and the islanders repeated the feat becoming the first team to beat the Welsh in their new fortress Millennium Stadium.

This time the defeat was a scoring epic with plenty of action to keep rugby fans entertained. Samoa racked up five tries during the contest at the same time Wales fly-half Neil Jenkins surpassed Michael Lynagh as Test rugby’s highest total points scorer.

France 12 Argentina 17: 2007 group stage

France headed into hosting rugby’s biggest showdown as Six Nations champions and with the nation’s expectations on their shoulders. Les Bleus had the honour of opening proceedings and fell to a shocking 12-17 defeat to Argentina.

The Pumas were a growing force in the sport without pulling up too many trees yet their powerful pack threw up a big upset in front of 80,000 baying French fans. Igancio Corleto scored the only five-pointer of the clash that was dominated by the boot.

BY - Will Chrimes

26 September 2015