Coming up with a list of the top tries of the decade was a tough one. What makes one try stand out from another? Is it individual brilliance we are gauging it on, or is it whole of team involvement? Rehearsed tries from a set piece or instinctive brilliance? Does a try against the All Blacks or in a final count for more than one against a touring nations’ third XV?
Well frankly, for this list there is no hard and fast answer. There is definitely a case of tries in big matches being a big factor. Players standing up to the occasion so to speak. There’s a couple of match winners, that’s for sure. Set piece majesty? Hmmm …there is a couple, as it is something I love to see. All those hours on the training paddock paying off on the actual field. But it doesn’t take from my love of that piece of individual brilliance, brought upon by natural instinctiveness and awareness of the opportunity.
And so to the list which includes, thanks to some of the champions at G&GR, video footage of each try. And awaaaaayyy, we go:
5 Lote Tuqiri v England. Telstra Stadium, Sydney (22 November, 2003) – Rugby World Cup Final
There is something about this try that both delights me and disappoints me. It delights me from the sheer execution of it all. Remembering this was the biggest test in Australian rugby ever! Sure we’d been in World Cup finals before, one a couple, but this was the big one. This was at home and it seemed like EVERYONE was watching. We’d blown the kiwis off the park the week before, and know was our chance for the Poms.
We were only five minutes into the game, and the chance was on. A pin point Steve Larkham cross field kick where the athletic Lote Tuqiri monstered the diminutive Jason Robinson. It was the perfect tactic. Not only was Lote twice the size as Billy Wizz but he was superb in the air as well. It all played out to sheer perfection and there we were, leading early with a planned move coming up trumps. And then….and then it was put in the back pocket and we never saw it again.
Why didn’t we try it at least once more? Was it as a result of Larkham’s head knock? Did we get complacent? Did we choke? Michael Lynagh showed in the 91 RWC quarter final against Ireland that if something works once in a game of rugby, there’s no reason to stop using it. But the 03 Wallabies did stop. And we didn’t look like cross the line for the remaining 75 minutes plus injury time.
But in the moment? It was a brilliantly taken try, planned and executed to near perfection.
Tomorrow we look at number 4, with the only hint being it is one of our most recent ones. But NOT the one the IRB think…