World Rugby

The Top 5 Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal Matches Of All-Time Ranked

The Top 5 Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal Matches Of All-Time Ranked

Discover the greatest Rugby World Cup quarterfinal matches. Check out these five epic clashes that define the RWC's history.

Oct 11, 2023 by Philip Bendon
The Top 5 Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal Matches Of All-Time Ranked

The Rugby World Cup has been a stage for some of the most electrifying and unforgettable moments in the history of the sport. 

While the tournament has seen its fair share of thrilling matches and remarkable upsets, the quarterfinals often have been the crucible where legends are made and dreams are shattered. 

In this article, we embark on a journey to relive the drama, intensity and pure sporting magic of the top 5 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal matches of all-time. 

From stunning upsets to epic comebacks, from displays of incredible skill to heart-stopping finishes, these games have left an indelible mark on the sport and etched themselves into the memories of fans around the globe. 

Each match tells a unique story of grit, determination and the unpredictable nature of rugby. Together, they form a testament to the enduring allure of the Rugby World Cup's knockout stages. 

Join us as we revisit these extraordinary battles that have defined the essence of rugby on the world stage.

5. Scotland Vs. Australia – 2015 Rugby World Cup

The 2015 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match between Australia and Scotland, held at Twickenham Stadium in London on Oct. 18, was an enthralling spectacle of rugby that forever will be etched in the annals of the sport's history. 

What unfolded on the pitch was a dramatic and emotionally charged battle, reflecting the essence of the game. 

Both teams displayed extraordinary skill and determination. Several lead changes and high-pressure moments marked the contest, but the dramatic conclusion left an indelible mark. 

In the dying minutes of the game, Scotland was on the verge of a historic upset, taking a one-point lead, thanks to a penalty kick by Greig Laidlaw. 

However, the Wallabies were not to be denied, and a controversial last-minute penalty was awarded to Australia. Bernard Foley coolly slotted the kick through the posts, securing a 35-34 victory for the Australians. 

This nail-biting finish, marred by officiating controversy, sparked intense debates and discussions within the rugby community. 

Regardless of the outcome, this quarterfinal encapsulated the unpredictability and drama rugby is known for, leaving fans with memories of a heart-stopping contest between two proud rugby nations.

4. Ireland Vs. Australia - 1991 Rugby World Cup 

The 1991 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal clash between Ireland and Australia remains a seminal moment in the annals of rugby history. 

This eagerly anticipated showdown, held at Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Oct. 20, 1991, lived up to the hype, as both teams exhibited extraordinary passion and skill. 

The Australians, eventual champions of the tournament, were favorites, but the Irish team, fueled by a fervent home crowd, put up a fierce fight. The match was an intense battle marked by brutal tackles and remarkable displays of rugby prowess.

Ireland took an early lead, but Australia's unwavering determination saw it stage a dramatic comeback. 

A critical moment occurred when Australian wing David Campese intercepted a pass from Ireland's Tony Ward and ran the length of the field for a game-changing try. 

The final score of 19-18, in favor of Australia, reflected the nail-biting nature of the contest, and it forever will be etched in the memory of rugby fans worldwide. 

3. England Vs. Australia – 1995 Rugby World Cup

The 1995 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal clash between England and Australia stands out as a monumental chapter in rugby lore. 

Hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, this fiercely contested match on June 11, 1995, showcased the epitome of rugby spirit and sportsmanship. 

Both teams, driven by an unyielding desire to progress, engaged in an intense battle of skill, strategy and sheer determination. Monumental tackles, strategic kicks and brilliant displays of teamwork marked the encounter.

The turning point came late in the match when England's Rob Andrew, under immense pressure, slotted a drop goal to secure a narrow 25-22 victory for England. 

This momentous win propelled England into the semifinals and solidified the match's status as one of the greatest quarterfinals in Rugby World Cup history. 

The game exemplified the essence of rugby, emphasizing physical prowess, mental acuity and unyielding resilience. 

It left an indelible mark, reminding fans of the sport's unpredictable nature and the sheer thrill it brings to both players and spectators alike. 

2. South Africa Vs. England – 1999 Rugby World Cup 

The 1999 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal clash between England and South Africa, held at Stade de France in Paris, remains etched in rugby history as a gripping battle of determination and skill. 

Taking place on Oct. 24, 1999, the match showcased the epitome of rugby prowess. 

Both teams exhibited immense tenacity, each vying for a spot in the coveted semifinals. 

South Africa, the defending champion, faced a formidable English side. The encounter was defined by intense physicality and strategic play. 

England took an early lead with Jonny Wilkinson’s precise kicking, but the Springboks, led by the legendary Joost van der Westhuizen, mounted a fierce comeback. 

In the game's dying moments, Jannie de Beer, the South African fly-half, shattered English hopes by slotting five drop goals, five penalties and two conversions to secure a 44-21 victory. 

De Beer's incredible kicking display became the stuff of legend, and South Africa's triumph in this electrifying encounter propelled the Springboks into the semifinals. 

The match not only highlighted the competitive spirit of rugby, it also underscored the unpredictable nature of the game, leaving fans in awe of the players' skill and resilience. 

1. New Zealand Vs. France – 2007 Rugby World Cup 

The 2007 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match between New Zealand and France, played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, is etched in rugby history as a dramatic and monumental encounter. 

It took place Oct. 6, 2007, and was anticipated as a clash of rugby titans. 

The All Blacks, tournament favorites, faced Les Bleus, who were viewed as underdogs. What transpired on the pitch, however, defied all expectations. 

In a stunning upset, France produced a mesmerizing performance, playing with flair and determination that left rugby fans around the world in awe. 

The New Zealand team, unbeaten until that point, was shellshocked, as France, inspired by captain Thierry Dusautoir, unleashed a spirited defensive effort and capitalized on the All Blacks' uncharacteristic mistakes. 

The final score of 20-18, in favor of France, was a testament to France's relentless commitment and precision in execution. 

This remarkable quarterfinal showcased the unpredictable nature of rugby and the enduring principle that on any given day, any team can triumph. It remains a watershed moment in Rugby World Cup history.