World Cup - Top 10: World Cup blunders
We look at the Top 10 blunders in World Cup history.
The imposing Fiji full-back seemed a nailed-on certainty to score as he stormed down the touchline with the ball in one hand, but, unaccountably, it slipped from his grasp and the quarter-final – which the Pacific islanders were controlling at that stage – turned, France taking command and running out comfortable winners.
The French referee’s failure to notice that Wales scrum-half Robert Jones had touched down To’o Vaega’s kick-ahead before the Western Samoan gave the Pacific islanders the vital first try in the Pool 3 game at Cardiff and the belief that they could go on to pull off the shock of the tournament.
With Scotland awarded a penalty near the England posts in the closing minutes of the Murrayfield semi-final, Hastings had a golden chance to tie the scores. However, the Scots’ full-back, normally such a reliable goalkicker, incredibly pushed his attempt wide and England went through to the final at Twickenham.
The All Black fly-half’s missed drop-goal in the dying minutes of normal time in the final, with the score tied at 9-9, proved absolutely crucial. The match went to extra time and after Mehrtens had swapped penalties with Joel Stransky, the Springbok number 10 landed the decisive drop-goal to clinch victory.
Paddy O’Brien (France 28 Fiji 19, 1999)
New Zealand referee O’Brien admitted he blundered in awarding France a penalty try 10 minutes from the end of the Pool C match with Fiji leading 19-13. The penalty should have gone the other way, as France hooker Marc dal Maso had infringed by popping up out of a scrum.
Neil Jenkins (Wales 31 Samoa 38, 1999)
With the Pool D match in the balance at 24-24, new world points record-holder Neil Jenkins watched aghast as his pass in the Samoan 22 was snapped up by Pat Lam, who proceeded to storm clear and touch down for a converted try that put the Samoans on the way to another dramatic win in Cardiff.
Ben Kay (Australia 17 England 20, 2003)
The England lock’s first-half knock-on with the line at his mercy on the right wing looked as though it was going to cost his side the Webb Ellis Trophy at the time – but fortunately for him Jason Robinson scored soon afterwards on the opposite side and Kay’s error didn’t matter.
In fact, the Georgian fly-half provided five errors in the Pool D match by failing to land four drop-goal attempts and a penalty. Kvirikashvili’s misfortune denied the minnows the chance to humiliate the Irish and meant they had to be content with their first RWC point – for losing by less than seven points.
Wayne Barnes (France 20 New Zealand 18, 2007)
The English official’s failure to spot Damien Traille’s forward pass to Frederic Michalak in the build-up to Yannick Jauzion’s match-winning try for France in their quarter-final against the All Blacks led to Barnes being criticised by IRB head referee Paddy O’Brien and to death threats from New Zealand fans on internet sites.
Felipe Contepomi (Argentina 13 South Africa 37, 2007)
The Pumas’ hopes were high that they could reach their first Rugby World Cup final after winning their pool comfortably and beating Scotland in the quarter-final. However, they evaporated the minute fly-half Contepomi threw out an ambitious pass and Springbok scrum-half Fourie du Preez intercepted it and sprinted 70 metres for the opening try.