Best of RWC - Episode 6
1995 South Africa - Classics
Part 6 of the series celebrating upsets and classic matches of the seven Rugby World Cups to date is part 2 on the 1995 RWC: some of the great games that went with form in the Rainbow Nation.
In my opinion RWC III was the best of the Tournaments to that date – and still matches with the best of the subsequent Cups. Perhaps just perception but the rugby seemed of a more enjoyable quality, and of course the final was absolute first class (pipped for “best final ever” by the 2003 final by the smallest of margins) result notwithstanding. Look for that one in the next installment.
As always “facts” herein may be fluid in nature.
Samoa 32 v Argentina 26
A clash of styles and cultures, epitomised by each team’s first try, and a pulsating finish.
As an example Argentina took 7 or 8 minutes and countless resets of their first attacking scrum to eventually muscle over, Samoa’s first piece of quality attacking possession was flashed through the backline for an immediate reply.
The match was played in sunshine but with a wind that howled down the ground: a fact missed by the TV commentators (Nisbo?) who were obviously calling the game from the studio as they were constantly amazed at the territory the kickers carved off.
The seesawing match finished in incredible style.
A late try for Manu Samoa tied the scores up at 26 all. But then lighting struck again as their excellent backs created the winner. I’m reasonably sure both were scored or set up by George Leaupepe who came off the bench
New Zealand 145 v Japan 17
A thrashing, but strangely entertaining.
This remains the most points scored by any one team in an RWC game, and was the biggest margin until Australia’s 142 to nil romp in against Namibia in 2003.
Marc Ellis bagged 6 tries as he set out deliberately - and rather selfishly - to set the New Zealand try scoring record. Watching the game I recall being disappointed with his efforts as he beat tacklers when team pattern would have been better served with a pass. Ellis was phenomenally talented, but never produced form to his potential in either rugby or league, or in fact in broadcasting.
Simon Culhane’s 20 conversions from 21 attempts (on debut?) was remarkable, adding a try to push his personal tally to 45 eclipsing the individual points record set by Gavin Hastings for Scotland v Ivory Coast a few days earlier.
Classy flanker Paul Henderson, who had to contend with top quality competition for his spot, now often claims to be the most successful All Black captain ever.
And, seriously, just how Japan managed to fit in time to score 17 points is beyond me.
France 22 v Scotland 19
Just like in 1987 this pool match was a race to avoid New Zealand in the Quarter Finals.
My memories of this match are rather vague (slept through most of it), but I seem to recall the Scots holding a thin advantage but succumbing right at the end to a sweeping French backline move.
Ireland 24 v Wales 23
Wales losing to Western Samoa in 1991 gave them a seeding that saw them in a Pool with New Zealand and Ireland. As New Zealand hit the ground running in ’95 it quickly became apparent that this game was the fight for the second QF place from the pool.
Like Scotland v France my memories are hazy, but I seem to recall Ireland deserved the win that sent Wales out of the Cup prior to knockout stages for the second consecutive tournament.
South Africa 19 v France 15 – Semi Final
Lots and lots of rain.
Oh, and mud. Even more mud.
A massive downpour hit Durban the day of this game and the match was in real danger of cancellation, which, if it had eventuated would have sent France through to the final as disciplinary record was one of the tie-breakers for this tournament.
(In fact if the scores in the final remained tied at the end of extra time New Zealand would have brought home Bill, which would have been a hollow way of winning it … but I’d have taken it. On reflection any number of other tie-breakers should have been available … maybe boundaries hit? Thankfully this clause was never invoked.)
A vivid memory of the match was the line of cleaning ladies employed to sweep the excess (some of the excess) water off the pitch to allow play to commence.
Kick-off was delayed and the match played in a mud-bath.
The awarding of a gold watch by SA Rugby supremo Louis Luyt to Derek Bevan, referee in this match, for “Referee of the Tournament” at the post-tournament dinner, and Luyt’s possibly garbled speech when awarding said watch, has created a conspiracy or two surrounding the end to the match.
Abdelatif Benazzi looked to score a try late in the game. He later suggested he may have been held centimetres short, which says a lot about his grace and class. Oh for a TMO in ’95.
The Bokke survived and advanced.
THE Classic match from the Rainbow Nation RWC follows soon … it deserves a place on it’s own