Nelson Mandela hands the Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar. Photograph: Getty

Having been excluded from the first two Rugby World Cups in 1987 and 1991 South Africa emergedfrom the dark shadow of apartheid to rejoin the elite in(...)

Jonny Wilkinson’s last minute dropgoal won England the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

In the year leading up to the 2003 World Cup England had done something no other side had achievedbefore and beaten all of the other major nations. In(...)

Jonah Lomu destroyed England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Cape Town. Photograph: Getty

The All Blacks progression to the 1994 World Cup semi-finals was as assured as it was fearsome. They cantered through a group containing Ireland and (...)

France produced arguably the greatest World Cup comeback when they beat the All Blacks at Twickenham 1999. Photograph: Getty

In 1987 France, weary from their thrilling semi-final win over Australia, were mere participants in the World Cup final, as New Zealand were coronated(...)

An emotional Phil Davies after Wales were beaten by Western Samoa at the Cardiff Arms Park. Photograph: Getty

While Wales 38-34 defeat to Fiji which dumped them out of the 2007 World Cup constituted a shock,it wasn’t an earth shattering one. The athleticism an(...)

David Campese inspired Australia to victory over the All Blacks in the 1991 World Cup semi-final at Lansdowne Road. Photograph: Getty

Australia and New Zealand played each other for the first time in 1903 but it wasn’t until 1991 theymet on neutral soil. The venue, Lansdowne Road. Th(...)

Philip Matthews can’t stop  Michael Lynagh scoring the winning try in the 1991 World Cup semi-final at Lansdowne Road. Photograph: Inpho

The best teams in any sport are the ones who never know when they are beaten. For them, the clock seems to tick on that little bit longer and f(...)

Gordon Hamilton’s try put Ireland on the brink of a famous win over Australia and the 1991 Rugby World Cup semi-finals. Photograph: Inpho

Ahead of the 1991 World Cup quarter-final between Ireland and Australia, not many people were giving Ciaran Fitzgerald’s side a prayer. Indeed,(...)

Cian Healy, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara during Ireland’s 15-6 win over Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

With rugby’s senior nations forming a relatively small pool of just eight sides, it figures that certain teams tend to meet each other regularly at th(...)

Alain Rolland shows Wales captain Sam Warburton a red card during the 2011 semi-final defeat to France. Photograph: Getty

One of the things which makes the World Cup such an incredibly hard tournament to win is in order to do so a team needs to hit its peak at exactly the(...)

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