Ahead of the Rugby World Cup Pool A grudge match between England and Wales, MM casts an eye back at some of the most memorable encounters between the two sides over the years.
In 126 official games between the two sides, a history which stretches back over 130 years, England just edge their neighbours with 58 overall wins to Wales’ 56 with both sides having won 36 times each on their home turf.
Today’s clash will only be the third occasion the two sides have met in the competition, with their last encounter coming in the quarter-final of the 2003 World Cup which saw England run out eventual 26-10 winners on their path to becoming champions.
Here is a look back at some of their most memorable battles over the years:
2014: ENGLAND 29 – 18 WALES
At the 2014 Six Nations Stuart Lancaster’s England narrowly lost out on the title to Ireland on points but they had the bragging rights of securing their first Triple Crown for 11 years against Wales. It was largely a tale of two kickers, with Owen Farrell matching Leigh Halfpenny as he scored all of his 5 penalties as well as two conversions.. This victory was made all the sweeter after Wales broke English hearts the previous year, as a crushing 30-3 defeat at the Millennium ended England’s hopes of a Grand Slam.
2008: ENGLAND 19 – 26 WALES
An amazing second-half comeback spearheaded by a Lee Byrne try saw Wales claim their first victory at Twickenham for over 20 years. England dominated the visitors in the first-half, with a Toby Flood try and typically-impeccable kicking from Jonny Wilkinson ensuring the hosts were narrowly ahead at the interval. However Wales rallied after the break, with Byrne’s try proving the pivotal moment alongside James Hook’s steady kicking as Warren Gatland’s first game as head coach had a happy ending.
2006: ENGLAND 47 – 13 WALES
Many assumed Wales would be the stronger outfit on the back of a Grand Slam but a comprehensive performance allayed all fears of England succumbing to the reigning champions. The hosts scored an impressive six tries, with Lawrence Dallaglio amongst the scorers after returning to international rugby following a brief retirement. Whilst Wales were a depleted outfit, the fact that England had six different try scorers spoke volumes about their strength-in-depth in comparison to their neighbours. England’s 47-point haul also proved to be the highest of the 2006 Six Nations.
2005: WALES 11 – 9 ENGLAND
Perhaps one of the most memorable matches between the two sides came at the 2005 Six Nations where Wales beat England 11-9, their first win in 12 years, on their road to the Grand Slam.
Gavin Henson played perhaps one of the best games of his career, as he made two memorable tackles on Mathew Tait, earning the England centre the undesirable nickname “Henson’s Handbag”. The Welshman went on to score the winning penalty with ten minutes remaining to secure a win which still remains potent in the Welsh rugby consciousness.
2001: WALES 15 – 44 ENGLAND
It was the christening of the Millennium Stadium no Welsh fan wanted as England romped to victory, scoring the most points by the away side in the entire history of the two side’s meetings. Will Greenwood enjoyed a hat-trick of tries, with Matt Dawson crossing twice and Ben Cohen adding another. England’s impressive try-scoring was supported by the kicking of Jonny Wilkinson, who contributed 14 points to the score-line.
1999: WALES 32 – 31 ENGLAND
Wales denied England the Five Nations title and the Grand Slam by a single point at the death. Neil Jenkins displayed nerves of steel as he kicked six penalties, including the one which would snatch victory from England, and two conversions. Scott Gibbs’ incredible try, which saw him get the ball on England’s 22 and dance past multiple English players before crossing, set up Jenkins’ last-gasp conversion. The match would prove to be last encounter between the two sides in the Five Nations, as the championship expanded to six competitors with the inclusion of Italy.
Image courtesy of RBS 6 Nations via YouTube, with thanks.