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10 Memorable Moments from Wales’ Rugby World Cup Journey


Sep 6, 2023

Wales has had a unique and eventful history with the Rugby World Cup. They have experienced both highs and lows throughout the previous nine tournaments. Fans have a wide range of memories, from the good moments to the bad and even the controversial incidents. As they prepare for the tenth tournament in France in 2023, let’s take a look at ten of the most memorable moments for Wales.

Starting off the list at number ten is Wales’ victory over Australia in Japan in 2019. It was possibly one of their best performances at a World Cup, with a stunning first-half display that put them ahead 23-8 at half-time. They held on to secure their first World Cup win over the Wallabies in 32 years.

At number nine, we have Wales denying Jonah Lomu a try in the 1995 World Cup. Lomu was a rising star in world rugby, but Wales, along with the hosts South Africa, were the only teams to successfully stop him from scoring. This minor claim to fame came during a time of transition for the Welsh team, with a new non-Welsh coach taking charge.

Number eight on the list is the shocking moment when assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home during the 2019 World Cup in Japan after being accused of betting breaches. This was an unprecedented incident, as coaches have typically been sacked before a World Cup, not during one.

Moving on to number seven, we have the time when Wales, dubbed the “Welsh lambs,” surprised everyone with their performance against New Zealand in the final pool game of the 2003 World Cup. Despite being seen as underdogs, they put on a thrilling display and led the All Blacks 37-33 in the second-half.

Number six reminds us of the excitement in Wales during the 1999 World Cup when the country acted as hosts. The atmosphere was electric, with cultural figures like the Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics dominating the music charts. The Millennium Stadium, now called the Principality Stadium, was completed just in time for the tournament, and Wales staged a grand opening ceremony.

At number five, we have the unfortunate sacking of head coach Gareth Jenkins in 2007. Despite narrowly avoiding a Six Nations whitewash with a victory over England, the lack of cohesion in tactics and selection led to a thrilling but ultimately disastrous loss to Fiji in the World Cup, resulting in Jenkins’ dismissal.

Next on the list is Wales’ loss to Samoa in the 1991 World Cup. This was not the first time Wales had lost to a south-sea island opponent, but it was a significant defeat that highlighted their struggles. Years later in 1999, Wales would lose to Samoa again.

Number three brings us to one of the most memorable victories for Wales, as they defeated England at Twickenham in the 2015 World Cup. Despite being down 22-12 with half an hour to play, Wales rallied and pulled off a sensational 28-25 win. This victory denied England a spot in the knockout stage, making them the first host nation to miss out.

At number two, we have Paul Thorburn’s last-minute kick in the third-place play-off against Australia in the inaugural 1987 World Cup. Despite a red card for the Australian team early on, Wales needed Thorburn’s difficult conversion to secure a dramatic 22-21 victory.

Finally, at the top of the list is Sam Warburton’s red card in the 2011 semi-final against France. This heartbreaking loss left Wales wondering “what if.” The tournament, however, paved the way for future Six Nations success, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the disappointment.

As Wales prepares for the tenth Rugby World Cup, these memorable moments serve as a reminder of their rich history in the tournament, filled with both triumphs and challenges.

By Editor

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