We look back on some of the moments that rocked rugby in the last year
Biggest rugby moments 2022
It was a hell of a rugby year, with loads going on (good, bad, and ugly as hell some of it). We’ve even forgotten a few moments, we bet! So here is a wee refresher of some of the biggest stories of the rugby year.
If we’ve missed any, hit us up with your favourites as well.
Black Ferns brilliance
The Rugby World Cup final in Auckland ended as New Zealand 34-31 England but there was so much more to it than just this.There was the clash of narratives – England were overwhelming favourites, a team unbeaten in 30 matches headed into the final. The Black Ferns had overhauled their system, bringing in legendary coach Wayne Smith (and pals) to turn things around. Then there was the supposed clash of styles, with the hosts’ free-wheeling play up against England’s unstoppable maul.
And while Lydia Thompson was sent off early in the match, there was a sense England’s weaponry might still help them over the line. Until, that is, New Zealand stole lineout ball when it mattered most.
A crowning match in what had been an exceptional tournament – there was plenty of Women’s Rugby World Cup Final Reaction to pore over.
Ireland men make history in NZ
In the space of two weeks, Andy Farrell’s side went from winning a first Test ever on Kiwi soil to sealing an epic Ireland series win in New Zealand. Their 32-22 victory in the final Tests was a real sit-up-and-take-notice moment for the rest of the sport and marked the first time the All Blacks had lost back-to-back home Tests since 1998.
Heroes were made on that tour, with Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne at their combative best, while Josh van der Flier surely cemented his place in the running for World Rugby men’s player of the year on that tour.
Gallic Grand Slam
France won a Grand Slam in the Six Nations for the first time in 12 years. And they were exceptional all year, winning ten matches on the bounce.
They have a home World Cup coming up too.
Off the pitch things might not be all rosy in the French garden – recently, union boss Bernard Laporte got a two-year suspended prison sentence, for example – but on it, it’s been a very good year. And while les Blues were dominating the Six Nations, who can forget La Rochelle winning the Champions Cup or the La Rochelle fans out in force at the harbour, when their heroes returned?!
End of an era
England sacking Eddie Jones was massive news. The end of an era. He had become an ever-present voice in the British sporting sphere. But things had soured.
Then the RFU named Steve Borthwick England head coach. In short order we have a Six Nations and then it’s all eyes on the Rugby World Cup in France. What can the new regime, which includes Kevin Sinfield, bring?
With Wales, we already know a fair bit about their boss. Warren Gatland returned for Wales when Wayne Pivac was sacked. A coach who needs no introduction. A huge presence. An equally large task turning round the national fortunes.
Chile running hot
How Pablo Lemoine wasn’t in the running for World Rugby coach of the year is beyond us – he helped Chile qualify for the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever!
Over two qualifying legs, they defeated the USA… You might remember this wonder-try above, from fly-half Rodrigo Fernández, in Atlantis-like conditions in the first leg.
Forget biggest rugby moments of 2022 – this was the biggest moment in Chilean rugby history. They made it by just one point, and go into Rugby World Cup Pool D with Argentina, England, Japan and Samoa.
Worcester Warriors relegated from Premiership one day, as it all fell apart. Wasps going into administration soon after. The horrid reality of just how bad things could get in the elite club game rose to the surface as two famous clubs went to the wall.
We’ve since been told Wasps have been rescued and will play in the Championship next season, while Worcester’s short-term future is yet to be settled. But the whole thing will have scared the hell out of anyone involved in the professional club game.
What will transpire next year and where might the Welsh regions fit into this narrative?
Never in Dow-t
Comeback of the year, for sure.
A broken leg in April, against Wales. A screamer of a try against Canada in the World Cup semis. Take a bow, Abby Dow.
This was named women’s try of the year at the World Rugby awards (Fernández, above, won the men’s award). Belter.
Os Lobos back in the big show
Portugal booked their passage to their first Rugby World Cup since 2007 with a nerveless kick from Samuel Marques in the last match of the Final qualifying Tournament in Dubai.
Fair play to the scrum-half. So much on the line. He does the business.
This meant no Eagles at the World Cup, with Gary Gold leaving USA Rugby as the union begin their planning for the future. A future that includes hosting World Cups themselves.
Of course this was another shot at qualification for Portugal. They thought things might be over for them as Spain booked their place at the tournament – then in April, Spain were disqualified from Rugby World Cup 2023. It was another shambles in European qualification, but it opened the door for Os Lobos. Marques kicked it off its hinges…
Did we play a part in all those? Highly doubtful. We’re just enjoying the rise of Davit Niniashvili alongside everyone else. However, as one Georgia contact told us this year, Georgia beating Italy might have helped the Azzurri as…
Italy finally end dreadful run
In the last round of the Six Nations, we saw Italy shock Wales 22-21 to end their losing run of 36 matches in the Six Nations.
We also saw Josh Adams give his player of the match award to Ange Capuozzo after the electric young 15 sparked the winning score, setting things up for Edo Padovani.
Not content with that, in November we also saw a landmark Italy win over the Wallabies.
Tigers burning bright
It wasn’t just about Test success, and a Freddie Burns drop-goal clinching the Premiership title was a spectacular moment. The fly-half knocked over the winner with 25 seconds left on the clock, handing Tigers their first league title in nine years.
Stormers defy the odds
It’s also worthwhile if the Stormers miracle can be revisited. They won the United Rugby Championship title this year, despite being in administration. Loads of players lost, uncertain futures, nutrition on away legs out the window, sometimes playing with smaller matchday squads than opponents. What they did in their first season in the competition deserves huge credit.
The final was a cracker between two fierce foes – Australia women won the Sevens World Cup in Cape Town, beating New Zealand 24-22 to win their first World Cup title since Dubai 2009.
Former AFLW star Maddison Levi was the star of the show, scoring a scorching hat-trick.
It was more one-sided later on as Fiji men won the Sevens World Cup with a 29-12 victory over New Zealand. The Flying Fijians claimed the Melrose Cup for the first time since 2005.
Other biggest rugby moments 2022
- Argentina men, under Michael Cheika, beat New Zealand in New Zealand for the first time ever.
- Wales men beat South Africa in South Africa for the first time ever.
- Bulls semi-final performance in the URC, against Leinster.
- Ospreys beating Montpellier in Montpellier.
- Henry Arundell’s try versus Toulon.
- Ruby Tui’s growing profile off the field.
Our biggest stories on social media this year
Here are the top ten stories for us from social media traffic, in 2022. There’s a distinct ‘November’ flavour to some of these…
- Antoine Dupont sees red against Springboks
- Lydia Thompson sent off in Rugby world Cup final
- Watch: Josh van der Flier try against Springboks
- Watch: Kurt-Lee Arendse try against England
- Here’s why Joe Marler wears supporters jersey for Quins
- Watch: Crazy try at Singapore Sevens
- Watch: Ridiculous ‘own try’ in Challenge Cup
- World Rugby give law clarification on controversial hurdle try
- Rugby Rant: “Unfortunately, French TV coverage can have a different agenda”
- Twitter reacts to Lawrence Dallaglio comments on Wasps travails
What was your favourite? Let us know via email@example.com or on our social media channels.
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.