The Rugby World Cup 2023 is underway in France and already we have seen one of the biggest rugby upsets in history.
Fresh from a narrow defeat against Wales in their opening game, Fiji faced Australia at the weekend knowing that a defeat would likely mean elimination from the tournament.
The Aussies knew that a win would put them in a showdown with Wales in order to win the group.
Fiji had not beaten Australia since 1954 and in 22 games, they had won just twice and drawn once against their illustrious opponents.
However, on Sunday they shocked the Rugby World by defeating Australia 22-15 at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard in Saint-Etienne to bring themselves right into contention in Pool C.
You would have got relatively long odds from bet365 Sport on a Fiji win at the start of the game, but they produced an excellent display to deservedly put the Aussies to the sword.
How That Result Leaves Pool C
After beating Fiji 32-26 in their opener, Wales followed up that win with a 28-8 victory over Portugal, a result which means that it is the Red Dragons now top the group.
- Wales P2, 10 points
- Fiji P2, 6 points
- Australia P2, 6 points
- Georgia P1 – 0 points
- Portugal – P1 – 0 points
All of which sets up Sunday night’s clash between Wales and Australia in Lyon perfectly. A win for Wales and if Fiji can win their remaining two games against the two weaker teams in the group, would mean that Australia could well be eliminated.
However, if Australia win then it could be down to bonus points to decide which out of Wales, Fiji and the Australians progress into the knockout phase.
The Biggest Rugby Upsets In History
What is certainly true about the game is that Fiji’s victory was one of the biggest rugby upsets in the history of the international game.
But is it the biggest?
We decided to take a trawl through some of the biggest upsets in the history of international rugby to come up with the top five biggest rugby upsets in the history of the game.
Where possible too, I have included some YouTube footage of the game itself so you can enjoy how the shock result unfolded.
Biggest Rugby Upsets in History – 5 – New Zealand 15-25 Argentina (14/11/2020)
Before this Tri-Nations game, Argentina had not played a game for over 400 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic and they were not expected to do too much against a powerful New Zealand side.
A half-empty stadium probably didn’t aid the All-Blacks cause but this was a fantastic showing by the Argentines who more than matched their opponents and came away with a stunning 10 point victory on New Zealand soil.
Biggest Rugby Upsets in History – 4 – Wales 13-16 Western Samoa (6/10/1991)
Playing in front of their home crowd at the very first Rugby World Cup, Wales were expected to dominate the game against the little-known and unfancied Western Samoa team.
However, Wales fell behind to a try early on in the game and they could never get going against their limited but physical and energetic opponents. Generous refereeing from Frenchman Patrick Robin, including giving the Western Samoan’s a try when it appeared Wales grounded the ball first, did play a part.
However, two late Wales tries weren’t enough to close the deficit and Western Samoa claimed arguably the very first Rugby World Cup upset.
Biggest Rugby Upsets in History – 3 – New Zealand 31-43 France (31/10/1999)
Rated by many as the best ever Rugby World Cup game, the 1999 All Blacks team had swept through the World Cup in England. With Jonah Lomu proving to be an almost unstoppable force, it appeared a formality that they would end up winning the Webb Ellis Trophy.
That was until they reached the semi-finals where they took on a France team that they had beaten four months earlier 54-7 in Wellington.
The All Blacks went into an expected lead in the first half but at the half, France were still in the game and in the second half, France took hold of the game, managed to neutralise the All Blacks and ran in a number of scores themselves to stun the 70,000 capacity crowd at Twickenham.
The French would go on to lose in the final to Australia, but this victory was certainly one of the biggest ever Rugby World Cup upsets, given who the result came against.
Biggest Rugby Upsets in History – 2 – Australia 15-22 Fiji (17/09/2023)
Eddie Jones presided over what has been called the darkest day in the history of Australian rugby this past weekend as the Wallabies were well beaten by a Fiji side who had run Wales incredibly close just a week prior.
A combination of some fierce, powerful and technically adroit play by the Fijian side, allied to some comically inept and unconvincing Australian play at times meant that once Fiji hit the front, they were able to absorb what the Australian’s could throw at them.
When handed a penalty late in the game as time expired, Fiji knew they’d won. The penalty was missed or it would have been an even greater defeat.
Biggest Rugby Upsets in History – 1 – South Africa 32-34 Japan (19/09/2015)
South Africa came into this game as two-time Rugby World Cup winners. Japan had never won a Rugby World Cup Finals game. Despite the South Africans scoring 32 points, late in the game Japan were just three points behind.
They also had the ball deep in the Springboks territory and as time expired, they were awarded a penalty and a chance to tie the game.
Declining the opportunity to tie the game and pick up an outstanding draw, Japan opted for the scrum instead. Play progressed as Japan kept moving the ball and testing the South African defence.
Another penalty was given to Japan but as we headed into the fourth minute of added time, the Cherry Blossoms almost got in down the right, however rather than take a penalty, Japan switched the ball to the left and former Kiwi and now naturalised Japanese Carl Hesketh grabbed the ball and dived over the line to record the most stunning upset win in the history of Rugby.