10.Rob Andrew, England vs Australia RWC Quarter-final 1995
I remember this game as being a very exciting , nail-biter of a match. At full time they were locked at 22-22 and in injury time Rob Andrew struck a 45 m drop-goal that knocked Australia the then defending champions out of the cup.
9.Thomas Castaignede ,France vs England Five Nations 1996
Thomas Castaignede broke English hearts by denying them the victory that would have given them the Grand Slam in that year’s Five Nations. A cheeky poke of the tongue by Castaignede in celebration delighted the Parc de Princes crowd.
8. Zinzan Brooke ,New Zealand vs England RWC Semi-final 1995
New Zealand had been carrying the hurt of almost 2 years previous when they lost to England at Twickenham.
For England this will forever be remembered as the match where Jonah Lomu caused so much destruction. The most memorable moment is when Jonah ran over Mike Catt on his way to the tryline.
For the All Blacks this was retribution and they were going to beat England in every way possible.
So this drop kick the only one on the list by a forward, Zinzan Brooke’s drop-goal was New Zealand’s cherry on the top of one of the most astonishing test matches ever.
7. Stephen Larkham Australia vs SA RWC Semi-Final 1999
Aussies are not big on drop kicks but this one was one of the best . From close to the half way line Larkham kicks it and it sails through the distance with ease.
It was ironic that Larkham’s drop, sent the Springboks out of the tournament after the Springboks had sent England packing in their previous match with drop kicks
6. Francois Steyn, SA vs Australia Tri-Nations 2007
There were 2 drop goals the first not far from the half way line was unexpected and unbelievable.
5.Jannie de Beer, SA vs England RWC Quarter Finals 1999
England believed they were going to win this one. No one could have guessed the tactics of the Springboks for this match. Jannie de Beer kicking 5 drop goals to set up South Africa’s victory.
4. Ronan O’Gara, Ireland vs Wales Six Nations 2009
Truthfully I had recorded this game as I had to work late . I had finished work and stopped off in my then local in my new home of Southend-on-Sea.
An Irishman named Barry drank in the pub and he quietly walked in , in a very calm manner , ordered himself a pint took a swig, turned to me with sparkling eyes and said “We did it.”
After 61 years Ireland had won a Grand slam for only the second time. This was big. Ireland are now one of the big boys. A really historic moment celebrated with dignity by Barry.
3.Jeremy Guscott, British Lions vs SA Lions 1997
If Joel Stransky’s drop goal in ’95 was my best rugby memory this could quite easily be my worst.
SA rugby is never far from controversy and the lead up to the Lions tour was far from ideal. Kitch Christie world cup winning coach in ’95 had resigned due to ill health, dying in ’98. He was succeeded by Andre Markgraaf who infamously selected Theo Oosthuizen ahead of former captain Francois Pienaar. This effectively ended Pienaar’s international career and Theo Oosthuizen went on to never play in a test match for South Africa. Markgraaf never lasted that long in his position after he was recorded saying racially offensive remarks about certain black players.
So enter Carel du Plessis who never had much previous coaching experience. Carel may have failed with his results but he introduced many young players into international rugby and attempted to change the Springbok style to a more creative running game.
Attempting to do this against a British and Irish Lions side that vowed not to take a backwards step may be the reason they lost . That and not having a reliable kicker.
South Africa had under estimated the Lions and the Lions had comfortably won the first test in a three test series.The second test was far different as the Springboks scored 3 tries but could not convert any kicks. With Neil Jenkins getting all his kicks the Lions were still in it at 18-18 when Jeremy Guscott snapped over this Series winning drop goal.
That moment hurt and it still does.
2.Johnny Wilkinson, England vs Australia 2003 RWC Final
The images we see of Johnny kicking the ball and then high fiving a teamate as he ran back in celebration are the end to a story that began when Clive Woodward became England coach.
In the early to mid nineties England and France dominated Northern Hemisphere rugby but wins against New Zealand and Australia were rare and South Africa were improving fast and they too were becoming difficult to beat.
The English game had a bad reputation globally and they were continually accused of playing 10 man rugby. With a juggernaut pack and a kicking fly-half their game was effective but not up to all conquering standards they so wanted.
Clive Woodward set out to overhaul the English game in every way, this was the professional era and Clive was the man for the job.
The mindset changed , no longer was it okay to lose to the 3 Southern Hemisphere Giants and the ambition to play an all-round game was key to England’s rise to the top of world rugby.
After the lessons learnt from the failure in 1999 England were in fantastic shape for the 2003 RWC.
The final between hosts Australia who had beaten New Zealand to get there and England in front of 83,000 spectators at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney. The game going into extra time Johnny kicking his winning drop goal in the 100th minute.
England being the first northern hemisphere team to win the trophy and going down-under to so.
1. Joel Stransky, SA vs New Zealand 1995 RWC Final
As a South African I always had a feeling deep inside me , we were destined to win this World Cup. This was difficult to believe as up until the opening game of the 1995 RWC, SA had not fared to well in test rugby during the 3 years they had been back in International rugby.They had fallen behind the world game during their isolation years.
The New South Africa had not long been a democracy and we seemed to be in a honeymoon period where before most had feared the worst , in reality the exact opposite happened. This may have added to the belief.
We got to the final via a blackout in Port Elizabeth and a Monsoon in Durban. The French were set on messing up our plans they didn’t seem to understand that we were meant to be in the final.Somehow Derick Bevan (referee) never awarded a penalty try for repeated scrum infringements and somehow never saw Abdelatif Benazzi’s (French forward) try. What was stranger was at the dinner after the World cup the president of the SA rugby union presented Derick Bevan with a gold watch.
We made it to the final and then Nelson Mandela walked out wearing a no.6 Springbok top.It was at that point as a South African I truly believed the dream was going to come true.It was a tense game and South Africa had kept New Zealand’s main strike weapon Jonah Lomu contained.
Apparently part of keeping the Kiwi’s contained was the food poisoning they were suffering from on the day which had something to do with a waitress named Suzie.
The game went into extra time and at 12-12 the Springboks had a scrum just inside the All Black’s 22 , Joost van der Westhuizen passed from the base of the scrum to Joel Stransky and the ball soared through the uprights and the stadium went berserk.
That is probably may favorite rugby memory of all time.