Memorable moments in rugby history, including the recollections of players themselves

60 Years of Rugby World: Rugby in Pictures

Rugby World magazine celebrates its 60th birthday this year and the celebratory edition features players past and present recalling significant moments in the history of the game.

Here is a taste of the ‘Rugby in Pictures’ content – pick up a copy of the magazine for more – plus a couple of additional moments we wanted to highlight.

South Africa’s 1969-70 tour to the UK and Ireland

Former Springboks No 8 Tommy Bedford: “There wouldn’t have been many rugby tours like that. You had to try to cope with (anti-apartheid) demonstrations, which was completely foreign. I had tried to warn the South African team and they had never experienced it and they thought it wouldn’t be a problem. I said, ‘Hang on chaps, I have seen demonstrations for three years here in the UK (as a student)’.

Anti-apartheid march

Boks protest: An anti-apartheid march on their way to Twickenham (Getty Images)

“My great regret about that tour is, as a South African having spent years in the UK and being able to travel, that sort of freedom and broadening of outlook that we were denied in South Africa, was denied. I’d have liked 30 Springboks to come back to South Africa with a similar experience (of the UK) to what I had.

“If we had come back having been broadened in our outlook all sorts of things might have been broadened. That was the great tragedy and the game staggered on. It took a whole lot longer to get things done.

“On that tour you felt the whole world was against you – instead of being outward looking you became inward looking and that is one the big disappointments for me.”

New Zealand’s 1987 World Cup win

Former All Blacks hooker Sean Fitzpatrick: “It was an opportunity for us to get people back watching rugby. We trained at schools and really took the game back to the locals.

Sean Fitzpatrick

Middle man: John Drake, Sean Fitzpatrick and Steve McDowell at RWC 1987 (Getty Images)

“We got billeted in the Wairarapa. We played Argentina in the last pool game in Wellington and Brian Lochore (coach) said we are going to head to my home village and have a few pints in my local pub.

“We went into the pub and it was full of all the locals then Brian said, ‘Fitzpatrick and (Richard) Loe you are with the Murphy family’. We are like, ‘What?’ We had to go and stay with them for two nights – it was bloody fantastic.”


Emile Ntamack

Triumph: Emile Ntamack lifts the first Heineken Cup trophy (Getty Images)

Toulouse’s Heineken Cup win in 1996

Toulouse made history on 7 January 1996 when they beat Cardiff 21-18 – thanks to a Christophe Deylaud penalty in extra-time – to win the first-ever Heineken Cup.

The French giants have gone on to lift European club rugby’s biggest prize a further three times but what really stands out from their inaugural triumph is the trophies.

Each player received an individual gong to go with the main trophy (see top image), which looks very different to the modern version!

Bath v Wigan cross-code challenge in 1996

Former Bath and England wing Jon Sleightholme: “It was a very strange build-up. We played Leicester at the weekend in the old Pilkington Cup final and played the rugby league game three or four days after.

“We had very limited preparation. Clive Griffiths came to do some league sessions with us but we couldn’t do a great deal and after winning the cup final against Leicester, the boys celebrated in style until Monday.

“The hardest thing was the defensive aspect (Bath lost 82-6). Union has learnt so much from league and it has had a huge impact. We couldn’t get to grips with the defensive stuff. We were all absolutely blowing because it was so different and if you speak to the league boys they will say the same about the game at Twickenham (Bath won 44-19).

Jon Sleightholme

Code cracking: Jon Sleightholme breaks away from Jason Robinson (Getty Images)

“It is a different type of fitness to what you are used to. In the league game we were really struggling to get back into alignment, we were all over the place. At half-time we said, ‘We can’t learn this, let’s play our stuff like we would in union’.

“It was a lot better in the second half but I am sure Wigan took their foot off the gas a little bit. We just tried to play union against them but they were physical specimens.

“It was a heck of an experience and it broke down the barriers between the two games which had been there for over 100 years. There was massive respect from us and I think it came back in the other direction.”

New Zealand’s 1998 Women’s World Cup win

Former Black Ferns flanker Melodie Robinson: “This was a super special event because it was the first time we were officially selected to represent New Zealand at a Rugby World Cup. Even better it was in Amsterdam, which was a location none of us thought we’d ever get to, let alone play rugby there.

“We had an official wardrobe, just like the All Blacks, and these massive Canterbury Rugby coats that looked like sleeping bags. A photographer was following us around to catch every moment and we were in a hotel out in the sticks with the Welsh team, who were super fun.

Black Ferns

Winning line-up: The Black Ferns perform the anthem at the 1998 World Cup (Getty Images)

“But most importantly we were ruthless in our attitude. Training was as intense as games. We were playing attractive, wide rugby, with tries aplenty.

“We beat England in the semi-final. Then came the very physical, muscular USA in the final. You don’t ever remember much when you’re playing a very intense match. Even when the whistle goes and you’ve won, your emotions are numbed. Numb because there was so much emotion in the build-up to this very moment.

“When you win, it takes a while to set in and then it hits when you see yourselves in the paper or you get home to congratulations from your family.”

Argentina’s third-place finish at the 2007 World Cup

Argentina shook up the whole rugby landscape at RWC 2007. First they beat France in the opening pool game and then they triumphed over the hosts in the bronze medal play-off to finish third at the World Cup.

Rugby in Pictures

Delight: Argentina captain Agustin Pichot celebrates finishing third at RWC 2007 (Getty Images)

Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez told World Rugby recently: “France 2007 was incredible. Beating France at home was a start, but the team had been growing steadily in the previous four years.”

Their success at that tournament paved the way to them joining Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup win

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw: “We were on the ground for an hour or so (after the final whistle), got cold, and went into the changing room and that’s when I thought, ‘Man, I’m absolutely exhausted’.

Richie McCaw

Tiredness hits: Richie McCaw with the NZ coaches after winning the 2011 final (Getty Images)

“We had to walk back across the field to get to the press conference. I was with Steve Hansen and said, ‘Mate, I’m gonna need a drink or something because I’m going to fall over here’. It didn’t hit me for an hour. Once it did I realised how exhausted I was and what we’d achieved.”

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