The rugby world has witnessed one of the strangest strings of international results this weekend, with draws, upsets and close competitions across the globe.
As well as the All Blacks’ disappointing 25-25 draw against a fast-paced England final in Twickenham, here’s what happened this weekend:
Portugal is the final qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2023
Portugal secured their final qualifying spot for Rugby World Cup 2023 in dramatic fashion.
Samuel Marques’ long-range shot after honking full-time gave Portugal a 16-16 draw against the United States in Dubai on Saturday and 20th and last place in qualifying.
The Lobos have reached only their second Rugby World Cup. They return to France, where they made their tournament debut in 2007. They open against Wales in Nice on September 16. Australia, Fiji and Georgia are also in Pool C.
“Just unbelievable,” said Portugal captain Tomas Appleton. “We have been absent (at the World Cup) for quite some time. We need a new generation to inspire the children.”
The USA missed the Rugby World Cup for only the second time. The other was the 1995 tournament in South Africa.
The Lobos scored their only try through winger Raffaele Storti while his opposite number Nate Augsperger was on the decline and led 10-9 at half-time at The Sevens Stadium.
Hooker Kapeli Pifeleti put the Eagles back ahead with a 60th-minute try that was converted by AJ MacGinty to make it 16-13.
The Scrumhalf Marques, who missed two penalties early in the period, scored the tie with his final shot in the 82nd minute.
Georgia beat Wales for the first time 13-12 in Cardiff
Georgia defeated Wales for the first time in rugby history 13-12 at the Principality Stadium this morning, just the Lelos’ second win against a Premier League nation.
The first was at home against Italy as recently as July.
Georgia was down 3-12 at halftime, was down and lucky enough to have conceded just two tries.
But after the break, things changed, especially in the crowd. The defense gave Wales no room either, the strikers held the ball longer and their confidence grew. Wales looked lost.
The turning point was a yellow card for Alex Cuthbert from Wales for knocking out opponent Sandro Todua. Cuthbert’s absence was expertly capitalized on as Georgia’s flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze nailed a perfect crosskick at Todua to catch him and saunter down the tryline.
Abzhandadze came on to win Georgia within two minutes from Wales with 20 minutes to go.
Five minutes later, Abzhandadze missed a direct penalty for the lead.
A missed catch nearly conceded a try for Wales but he was disallowed due to a knock.
On top came Georgia’s scrum, second best to Wales in the first half but crushing the Wales pack in the second half. A tighthead earned another penalty, and Abzhandadze’s backup, Luka Matkava, shot it in the 78th from Wales’ 10-yard line.
The Lelos held onto the final two minutes for a famous win.
Boks defeated Italy after an impressive 2nd half performance
A stunning second-half performance propelled South Africa to a 63-21 win over Italy on Saturday and gave the Springboks their first win of their European tour.
There was little sign of what was to come after a fairly even first half, but two quick tries early in the second for Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse – his second of the game – helped the Springboks take control.
The Boks netted seven of their nine attempts after the break when reserves Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Cobus Reinach also turned around, as did Damian Willemse.
Italy, who beat Australia for the first time in their history last week, can draw positives from an impressive first half which saw the Azzurri rival the world champions and lead by almost 20 minutes.
Nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year, Ange Capuozzo impressed again with another attempt to improve on the two goals he scored against the Wallabies. Lorenzo Cannone was also able to turn around.
Italy were looking to build on last weekend’s historic win over Australia, while South Africa were hoping to salvage something from their European tour after defeats by Ireland and France.
Scotland defeats 14-man Argentina
Scotland overcame remarkable Argentina resistance as they won their thrilling year-end rugby test 52-29 at Murrayfield this morning.
Argentina led 8-7 when flanker Marcos Kremer was sent off an hour from time and played at times with 12 men in the third quarter.
Incredibly, with 12 on the field and defending a five-yard scrum, the Pumas stole a drop ball and Emiliano Boffelli, playing on his home court, hit between the posts at the other end and converted his try.
The Cougars were only 24:22 behind with almost half an hour to go, but it was too long to last.
Scotland added four more tries and winger Darcy Graham scored a hat-trick in their highest scoring against the Cougars.
Scotland also reaped some revenge for the series’ 2-1 defeat in Argentina in July and flyhalf Finn Russell, unwelcome on the tour, was the architect of the home side’s eight-try performance. Key to six of them was Russell, who was brought back into the team in last week’s defeat by New Zealand.
Sexton’s backups lead Ireland to a narrow win over Wallabies
Ireland weathered a stern rugby challenge against a desperate Australia this morning to prevail 13-10 at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton retired just before the game after suffering a calf warm-up, but his flyhalf backups were superb.
Jack Crowley, who made his debut last week, began and played with a veteran’s composure. It is important that he hit both shots on goal. He was substituted eight minutes from time and Ross Byrne showed nerves of steel when he came up and converted the winning penalty with a right hand.
The Wallabies had a chance to win in the final moments. They put a kickable penalty in the corner for an alley, but the Maul was punished when defenders joined from the side.
They then stole an Irish throw-in inside the 22 in the closing seconds only to suffer a lost pass, which saw them lose to the home side three times in a row for the first time since 1968.