Here we take a look at some of the greatest finishes to rugby matches ever.

Rugby’s Greatest Ever Finishes

Recently we took to Twitter to ask you for the greatest ever finishes in rugby and below we have collated the most popular and famous selections.

England v Australia, Rugby World Cup Final, 2003

The quality of play may not have been the best but a World Cup final as important as this one deserves mentioning. It was totally engrossing from start to finish and the pivotal moment conducted by Jonny Wilkinson meant that the northern hemisphere had finally wrestled the cup away from the south for the first time.

England were the favourites before the tournament began and they delivered which was a monumental achievement in English sport.

Sharks v Bulls, Super Rugby Final, 2007

Match winner: Habana scores a try to win the match in 2007 (Getty Images)

The Sharks looked as if they had won their first Super Rugby title after Albert van den Berg scored a try with three minutes left. The score was 19-13 and it looked over, however Bryan Habana had other ideas. In the 82nd minute he cut in from the touch-line and found a gap to score a try which was importantly close to the posts. As a result Derick Hougaard slotted the conversion and the Bulls secured a famous victory. The Bulls would go on to win two more titles in the next three years.

New Zealand v Australia, Tri-Nations, 2000

In what many describe as the greatest match ever played, the All Blacks rushed out to a 24-0 lead after just nine minutes. However Australia battled back to level the scores 24-24 at half-time.

Then with just three minutes left and down by four points, the Wallabies had victory in their grasp as Jeremy Paul crossed in the corner. Stadium Australia in Sydney was electric but back came the All Blacks as Jonah Lomu scored to win famously by 39 points to 35.

Japan v South Africa, Rugby World Cup Pool Stages, 2015

Despite the heroics of Ayumu Goromaru, who contributed 24 points, Japan looked like they would fall agonisingly short of achieving their first World Cup victory since 1991. But their gallant efforts were rewarded when, spurning the chance to kick three points and so draw the match, they worked the ball left from a last-gasp scrum to Kiwi-born Karne Hesketh, who slid into the corner. Cue pandemonium in the stands and some heavy soul-searching from anyone affiliated to South African rugby.

No doubt they were below their best, but Japan deserved the win in every sense of the word.

Newcastle v Montpellier, Champions Cup Pool Stages, 2019

Back in 2018 Newcastle pulled off their second big French scalp in a row as they managed to beat Montpellier 23-20. What made the result even more incredible was the match-winning try by Callum Chick came in the 89th minute after 39-phases strength-sapping phases.

Ireland v New Zealand, International Friendlies, 2013

Ireland fans must have thought it couldn’t get much better when their side led 19-0 after less than 20 minutes against an All Blacks team aiming for a clean sweep of wins in 2013. However the All Blacks fought back with tries from Julian Savea and Ben Franks to narrow the gap. The score was 22-17 as the clock went into the red and after several phases, Dane Coles offloaded to Ryan Crotty to score in the corner. There was more drama as after missing the conversion, Aaron Cruden took it again as the Irish moved from the try-line too early. He then slotted it over and the All Blacks had a famous victory.

Cardiff v Leicester, Heineken Cup Semi-final, 2009

Leicester Tigers managed to get into the Heineken Cup final in 2009 thanks to a historic kicking-shootout victory over the Cardiff Blues. After a 26-all draw in regulation time, nothing could separate the teams in extra-time either so both teams had to pick five kickers. Both sides made four kicks and missed one so sudden-death was the result with non-specialist kickers now taking over. Sadly for Cardiff the first to miss was Blue Martyn Williams and Leicester’s Jordan Crane made no mistake to send the English side into the final.

Wales v Scotland, Six Nations, 2010

Thanks to a couple of tries and the kicking of Chris Paterson and Dan Parks, it looked as if Scotland had secured a shocking victory at the Millennium Stadium. However the Welsh had different ideas heading into the final 5 minutes. In that small amount of time, Leigh Halfpenny scored a try, Stephen Jones knocked over a penalty and then Shane Williams scored the winning try in front of a raucous crowd in Cardiff.

Ospreys v Sale, Heineken Cup, 2006

The score at half-time was 10-10 and in the second half the boot of Charlie Hodgson appears to be the difference as he slotted two to make it 16-10 with time winding down.

But like in the selection above, it was Shane Williams who popped up to score a crucial try which was then converted by replacement James Hook.

Wales v Ireland, Six Nations, 2009

Heading into the final match of the 2009 tournament, Ireland were the side going for the Grand Slam but their task was difficult as they headed to Cardiff. It proved to be a close and physical contest as Wales continued to rack up points thanks to the boot of Stephen Jones, whereas Ireland had to rely on the genius of Brian O’Driscoll and a brilliant try by Tommy Bowe. Into the final stages of the match Jones again used his boot to knock over a drop-goal with little time remaining, and yet with a couple of minutes to go, Ronan O’Gara did the same to give the Irish a 17-15 lead.

Unbelievably the Welsh were awarded a penalty just inside the Irish half which Jones left just short. The final-whistle blown and the Irish had a famous win and their first Grand Slam since 1948.

Leicester v Llanelli, Heineken Cup Semifinal, 2002

The game may have not been all that exciting because of the sheer physicality in the game, it provided an iconic moment in the Heineken Cup thanks to Tim Stimpson’s outrageous 58-metre penalty which bounced off the post and bar before toppling over. The Tigers had a famous 13-12 win and would go on to win the trophy against Munster in the final.

Ireland v France, Six Nations, 2018

In Ireland’s first match of their 2018 Grand Slam campaign, they faced a spirited French team that looked as if they had sealed the victory. However deep into injury time the Irish went phase after phase to get into the French half and then Sexton coolly knocked over a 45-metre drop-goal to win the match. An unbelievable moment from an unbelievable player.

Waratahs v Crusaders, Super Rugby Final, 2014

The 2014 Super Rugby final went down to the wire thanks to the boots of Bernard Foley and Colin Slade. Indeed it was Foley who would have the final say as he slotted a penalty in the 79th minute to earn the Waratahs their first ever tournament title.

Wales v England, Six Nations, 1999

A match best remembered by the Welsh, the men in red famously denied England a Grand Slam in 1999 and also denied them the Six Nations title too after beating them 32-31 in the final game of the tournament. This result came thanks to a last-minute try by Scott Gibbs which was made more memorable for the Welsh as the game was being played at Wembley because the Millennium Stadium was being constructed at the time. Talk about beating a team on their own doorstep!

Worcester v Bristol, Championship Play-off Final, 2015

In the first leg Worcester managed to beat Bristol 29-28 but things were going awry in the second-leg as they were 30 points to 16 down with time dwindling away. However they scored a penalty try and Chris Pennell scored another which was then converted by Ryan Lamb.

The final score was 30-30 which gave Worcester a 59-58 aggregate victory and promotion to the Premiership.

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