This forthcoming weekend, four European teams will do battle avec four southern hemisphere opponents. With the exception of the Argentina-Ireland skirmish, the other three matches will feature European nations who will be expected to lose (according to the bookmakers.) However, there have been a number of occasions in rugby history when France have conquered New Zealand, Scotland have defeated Australia, and Wales have beaten South Africa, so here is a reminder of those days and nights when the northern hemisphere ‘minnows’ gave the giants a very hard time indeed.
Wales have only beaten the Springboks twice and drawn once in a total of thirty tussles with one another. The three exceptions are as follows:
29th November 2014: WALES 12 South Africa 6
Leigh Halfpenny kicked three penalties early in the second half after the match had been deadlocked at 3-3 at the interval. Wales held on for a rare win.
26th June 1999: WALES 29 South Africa 19
Neil Jenkins kicked nineteen points, which included converting tries from Mark Taylor and Gareth Thomas. South Africa’s two tries were unconverted.
24th January 1970: WALES 6 South Africa 6
Gareth Edwards recorded a try and a penalty, but the visitors did likewise. The match was also level, three-three, at the halfway stage.
Scotland meanwhile are lambs to the slaughter, if media hype surrounding the current Wallabies is anything to go by. Neither country has ever met one another on neutral soil before, so their clash at Twickenham will be a first for both. Admittedly, the Aussies have been triumphant in nineteen contests between the two protagonists. However, here are the nine times when the Scots have defied the men from Down Under:
5th June 2012: Australia 6 SCOTLAND 9
Greig Laidlaw converted a last-minute penalty to record a famous win. The match had been sitting at 6-6 for more than 35 second-half minutes.
21st November 2009: SCOTLAND 9 Australia 8
Chris Paterson kicked a penalty with five minutes remaining to make the score 9-3. Cross then scored a last-minute try but Giteau missed the conversion.
4th July 1982: Australia 7 SCOTLAND 12
A second-half try by Keith Robertson, converted by Andy Irvine, helped Scotland to their first win on Australian soil. The match was poised 3-3 at half time.
19th December 1981: SCOTLAND 24 Australia 15
The Wallabies recorded three first-half tries, none of which were converted. Their slender 15-12 interval lead was overturned, as Irvine kicked 17 points.
6th December 1975: SCOTLAND 10 Australia 3
Lewis Dick and Jim Renwick achieved tries which put the hosts into a commanding ten-nil interval lead. A McLean penalty was later merely a consolation.
2nd November 1968: SCOTLAND 9 Australia 3
All the points came in the first forty minutes. Winger Sandy Hinshelwood recorded the only try while full back Colin Blaikie kicked two penalties.
17th December 1966: SCOTLAND 11 Australia 5
Alasdair Boyle and David Chisholm were the try-scoring heroes for the home team. John Brass’s converted try was Australia’s only highlight.
15th February 1958: SCOTLAND 12 Australia 8
Both nations shared four tries, but only Australia could convert one. The decisive contribution was two penalties from captain Arthur Smith.
17th December 1927: SCOTLAND 10 Australia 8
Each team converted a try in the first half, but after the interval Scotland’s second try was converted by Dan Drysdale, but Australia’s try was unconverted.
Last but by no means least, the French have the unenviable task of coping with the mighty All Blacks. However, if there is one European country historically capable of defying New Zealand, then it appears to be Les Bleus. Funnily enough they have won two of the three encounters on neutral territory, which is a good omen for this Saturday evening in Cardiff. Yes they have lost no fewer than forty-two times, but in twelve matches, the French emerged victorious, whilst also drawing on one occasion. The unlucky thirteen for the Kiwis are as follows:
13th June 2009: New Zealand 22 FRANCE 27
Julien Dupuy converted all three tries and kicked a penalty each half. The try-scoring heroes were Francois Trinh-Duc, William Servat, and Maxime Medard.
6th October 2007: FRANCE 20 New Zealand 18
Both teams shared four tries and four penalties, but the difference was that while Beauxis landed both conversions, Dan Carter only kicked one conversion.
16th November 2002: FRANCE 20 New Zealand 20
Francois Gelez and Andrew Mehrtens converted two tries and two penalties each. The scores were even level, 10-10 at the interval.
18th November 2000: FRANCE 42 New Zealand 33
Both countries shared six converted tries each. Astonishingly, the interval score was 26-24! Christophe Lamaison kicked 27 points, including two drop goals.
31st October 1999: FRANCE 43 New Zealand 31
Lamaison kicked 23 points, including three conversions of second-half tries from Dominici, Dourthe, and Bernat-Salles in this sensational comeback.
11th November 1995: FRANCE 22 New Zealand 15
Simon Culhane kicked five penalties, but his team were outscored by three tries to nil. The try-scorers were Dourthe, Sadourny, and Saint-Andre.
3rd July 1994: New Zealand 20 FRANCE 23
Emile Ntamack and Jean-Luc Sadourny recorded tries, which were both converted. France had famously won both tests on their tour of New Zealand.
26th June 1994: New Zealand 8 FRANCE 22
Philippe Benetton scored a second-half try which Thierry Lacroix converted. This enabled the visitors to pull further away from their 9-3 interval lead.
15th November 1986: FRANCE 16 New Zealand 3
This contest was deadlocked 3-3 after forty minutes. Then Denis Charvet and Alain Lorieux recorded tries which ensured a comfortable home win.
14th July 1979: New Zealand 19 FRANCE 24
France won the tries contest four-two en route to their first win in New Zealand. Alain Caussade scored one of them, converted one, and kicked a drop goal.
11th November 1977: FRANCE 18 New Zealand 13
The hosts recovered from 10-6 half-time arrears. Robert Paparemborde recorded a try and Jean-Pierre Romeu kicked fourteen points, including a drop goal.
10th February 1973: FRANCE 13 New Zealand 6
First-half tries from Bertranne and Dourthe provided France with a ten-three lead at the halfway stage. Romeu also kicked a conversion and a penalty.
27th February 1954: FRANCE 3 New Zealand 0
Captain Jean Prat recorded the only score of the match, which was a first-half try. Unusually, a pointless New Zealand ‘failed to trouble the scorer’.