AUCKLAND, NZ – The Rugby Championship takes a break this week, so instead of the usual weekly previews and reviews I thought I’d share a Top 10 Tries list with you. I got the idea when I showed a couple of clips in my previews to the England/All Blacks series back in June, both of a couple of memorable tries that had been scored against the All Blacks back in the day. If you’ve been reading this column over the course of this season, you’ll know that I’m a pretty keen All Black supporter. I’ve been lucky enough to see them play some amazing rugby over the years, but one of the best things about the All Blacks is that they often bring the best out in their opposition. I’ve already shared two very famous tries previously, one by Prince Alexander Obelensky for England in 1936 and one by Gareth Edwards for the Barbarians in 1973, so this list are the most memorable tries from my own personal experience of watching the All Blacks. It’s always hard seeing someone score against the team you love, sometimes it can actually take years to admit that, yes, that was a very good try! Honestly, it took about three or four years before I could really enjoy some of these. But here they are:
10. Yoshihito Yoshida, Athletic Park, Wellington, 1992. (Apologies, but embedding this here in not allowable).
I love this try because of the fact that it was a Japanese player that got it. Yoshida was part of the World XV, playing against the All Blacks as part of the NZRU’s centenary celebrations. That’s English centre Jeremy Guscott who provides the pinpoint kick for Yoshida to make his spectacular dive, they were both part of an all-star team that actually beat the All Blacks in the first test but then went on to lose the series 2-1.
9. Bryan Habana, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 2012 (Apologies, but embedding this here in not allowable).
Bryan Habana has scored a record number of tries for the Springboks, including this beauty early on in a Rugby Championship game a couple of years ago. Solidifying his reputation as South Africa’s most potent attacking threat of a generation, this certainly was a try that had everyone in the bar I was in gasping in disbelief.
8. David Rees, Twickenham, London, 1997.
When you talk of great international wingers, David Rees of England isn’t going to appear in too many conversations. Not many wingers of England would, to be honest (sorry, had to). But his one shining moment came in the last test of the All Blacks all-conquering 1997 season when he was give the unenviable task of marking Jonah Lomu. This piece of brilliance helped England shoot out to a big lead that the All Blacks managed to peg back to a 26-all draw they most definitely didn’t deserve.
7. Richard Bands, Carisbrook, Dunedin, 2003.
For all you front rowers out there: Carlos Spencer is probably still having nightmares about this one. It’s doubtful anyone in the All Black had scouted Richard Bands incredible pace, but they certainly found out when he took this perfectly timed hit up and cruised 50 metres to score in the corner. He had one little speed bump in the form of the unfortunate Spencer, who immediately wished he’d gone for Bands ankles instead.
6: Jonny Wilkinson, Twickenham, London, 2002.
Lord Jonny makes it onto the list with this sublime effort. After some great lead up work by his England team mates, Wilkinson looks to do what every NZer thinks he would do when England get close to the posts and snap a drop goal. Instead he puts boot to ball in a different way and chips over the top to score. England went on to win this test, however it is worth noting the All Blacks were severely understrength for this tour (no excuse though, they still should have won).
5 and 4. David Campese and Tim Horan, Landsdowne Road, Dublin, 1991 (RWC semi final)
Yep, two in one game by two of the Wallabies greatest ever players. These two are both memorable for the fact that they happened on the biggest stage of them all, the Rugby World Cup, and played their part in denying the All Blacks a place in the final. First Campo shows his brilliance by cutting back across the run of play to bamboozle the All Blacks, then does it again later in the half with a memorable no-look pass to set up Horan and break All Black fan’s hearts. This one really hurt.
3. Ricky Januarie, Carisbrook, Dunedin, 2008
Hmmm, the Springboks really pull out their best stuff in Dunedin don’t they? This incredible effort by Bok halfback Januarie wasn’t just the best try you’ll see from 2008, it sealed a very important win on NZ soil. Ultimately the All Blacks would go on and win the Tri Nations that year, but only because of the Springboks going completely off the boil and losing matches at home that they really shouldn’t have. Janaurie went on to win 47 caps for the Boks.
2. Matt Burke, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 1996
‘Why the hell isn’t anyone tackling him!?’ is what me and about 3 million other NZer’s were screaming at the same time back in this game from the first ever Tri-Nations tournament. Matt Burke didn’t care, he only had eyes for the line as he carved off my favourite individual try of all time against the All Blacks. This game was an amazing turnaround from the previous week in Wellington, where the Wallabies had been humbled in dramatic fashion, and was another classic of the modern era. The full match highlights are well worth watching.
1. Jean-Luc Sardourny, Eden Park, Auckland, 1994
The Try From The End Of The World in English. L’essai a Partir de la Fin du Monde in French. Oh S*&^, F#$%, C@#*!!! in NZ. You know how I keep going on about how the All Blacks haven’t lost at Eden Park for 20 years? Well this is the last time they did and this is the try it took to do it. It was I remember clearly watching this and at the point where Emile N’tamack cuts back in, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. He links up with Laurent Cabannes who finds Cristophe Deylaud on the inside. Deylaud pops a short ball to his halfback Guy Accoceberry and raises his arms in celebration, but, even though he has a clear run to the line, Accoceberry unselfishly gives the glory to his fullback Jean-Luc Sardourny. There’s a couple of familiar faces in that All Black team, Blues coach Sir John Kirwan is on one wing and that’s a 19-year-old Jonah Lomu getting bamboozled by Abdelatif Benazzi’s show and go. This try went the length of the field and essentially through the entire French team, meaning none of them will ever have to pay for a drink again for the rest of their lives.
What do you think? Have I missed any out that you can think of? Post them in the comments section.
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