7 Most Dramatic Finishes In Rugby Union History

Wilkinson's last minute kick for glory takes some beating...

Jonny Wilkinson Rugby World Cup 2003

Rugby Union is a wonderful game. It's physical, gritty and, unlike the alternative popular sport with the spherical ball, is much more dynamic.

The latter is what really makes the contests intriguing. There are many ways the ball can be played, sin bins, different methods of scoring and there are bonus points to consider for league and group matches too, making every mistake almost costly and game-changing.

With all of these factors, the "Gentleman's game played by hooligans" can go a variety of ways, leading to some compelling narratives throughout the 80 minutes.

Like every good story, there has to be a compelling climax, and, boy, have there been a fair few of those. Last minute tries, tears, comebacks, highs, lows. These are some of the best, showcasing why Rugby Union is the true beautiful game.

7. Poitrenaud's 'Howl'er

Wasps reached there first ever Heineken Cup Final in 2004, after successfully defeating Munster at Lansdowne Road 32-37 four weeks prior. A game which will go down as one of the greatest European rugby matches in history. It also had its fair share of late drama, with Trevor Leota dotting the ball down in the corner to retake the lead with minutes to spare.

The Men in black and gold had never made it past the Quarter Final stage of the tournament and faced stiff competition against the defending and two time Heineken Cup champions, Toulouse. The French Giants consisted of talent such as Cédric Heymans, Yannick Jauzion, Émile Ntamack (father of Romain), and captain, France's most capped player, Fabien Pelous.

Wasps weren't without their stars either. Captained by England No.8, Lawrence Dallaglio, with the likes of Joe Worsley and Simon Shaw in the forwards and Josh Lewsey and Rob Howley in the backs.

The, then, High Wycombe based outfit got themselves into a 20-11 lead before replacement Jean-Baptiste Élissalde steadily leveled the score, 20-20, with three minutes to go.

With extra time looming, both teams looked to play for territory with a game of kick tennis commencing.

At the 22m restart, Wasps Scrum Half, Rob Howley gathered and grubber-kicked the ball down the left hand touchline. Toulouse's Fullback, Clément Poitrenaud raced across to cover.

With of time to play the ball, Poitrenaud assessed his options. Wait for the ball to go into touch for a lineout? Wait for the ball to go dead for a scrum where Howley kicked it? Dot the ball down for another 22m restart? Or pick up the ball and evade the on-coming Howley?

But before he could gather the ball, the chasing Welsh international pounced, snatching the ball from Poitrenaud's grasp and scoring the match winning try in the corner, sending the Twickenham crowd into a frenzy. Even the Commentators, Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes, couldn't believe what they had just witnessed. "What has Poitrenaud done?!"

To makes matters worse for the Top 16 side, Mark Van Gisbergen nailed the tricky conversation to make the score 27-20 with a minute to go. Toulouse needed to score a converted try in that period to take it to extra time but it was too little too late.

Wasps had won their first Heineken Cup title, and at HQ of all places. They would do the same again three years later against rivals, Leicester Tigers, winning 25-9.

It wasn't all doom and gloom for Toulouse, as they would go on win the championship the following year and again in 2010. They are still, to this day, one of the most successful club teams in the tounament, with four titles and two runner up spots.

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