#CultClashes: Five of the best between old foes England and Wales
All eyes will be on Twickenham this weekend as England host Wales in a match which will go a long way to deciding this year’s Six Nations Championship, and if history is anything to go by, the encounter will be unmissable viewing.
The rivals have met 127 times dating all the way back to 1881, and incredible the head-to-head record reads 58 wins to England to 57 for the Welsh.
It hasn’t been easy to pick merely five of the finest and most dramatic encounters between these two rugby giants, but we think the five on our list are deserving of their place.
Let’s start with a little cameo from Scott Gibbs 17 years ago…
Wales 32-31 England, Sunday 11 April 1999
What a scenario England and Wales found themselves in as they met for the final match of what was the last Five Nations tournament.
Clive Woodward’s England knew a win at Wembley would hand them the Grand Slam, but a Welsh victory would see Scotland claim the trophy.
And for much of the match, a Grand Slam was heading England’s way. Even as the clocked ticked into injury-time, things were going just fine, but then Scott Gibbs had other ideas.
The Swansea player jinked, evaded, twisted and turned to evade a host of tackles and go over the line in the dying moments. Neil Jenkins stepped up to kick the winning points and break English hearts while delighting the Scots. Mega drama.
England 28-17 Wales, Sunday 9 November 2003
Only the second World Cup meeting between the sides, England had cruised through their Pool, while Wales had given New Zealand a scare before finishing second.
After losing all of that year’s Six Nations games en route to the Wooden Spoon, a rejuvenated Wales raced into a 10-3 lead at the Suncorp Stadium, and Woodward’s England looked on the verge of an exit.
A Will Greenwood try early in the second period however changed the game on its head, and Johnny Wilkinson pretty much did the rest as England continued on the path to glory.
Wales 11-9 England, Saturday 5 February 2005
This was the day Gavin Henson played himself into Welsh folklore as his side began an ultimately successful Grand Slam campaign.
Henson piled into England with a series of huge tackles – famously carrying Charlie Tate – as the Red Rose adapted under new coach Andy Robinson.
To cap it all, after two second-half penalties from Charlie Hodgson eradicated Wales’ early lead, Henson stepped up to kick the winning points with three minutes to spare. The win also ended England’s seven-match winning run in the fixture.
Quite a way to cap off your first ever Six Nations start.
England 19-26 Wales, Saturday 2 February 2008
Wales had won just once in the 2007 event, before England went on to reach the World Cup semi-finals that Autumn as the Welsh lost to Fiji and exited at the Pool stage, but 2008 was to be the year of a revival.
England flew out of the blocks and were 16-6 up at Twickenham as the half-time whistle went, and Johnny Wilkinson added three more to their total early in the second period.
But just as the hosts were thinking of victory, Wales pulled off two tries in three minutes through Lee Byrne and Michael Phillips. Two conversions from James Hook in addition to two penalties secured a sublime comeback and set the Welsh on their way to a famous Grand Slam.
Wales 30-3 England, Saturday 16 Match 2013
One to forget for the English, who headed to Cardiff on the verge of a Grand Slam, but knew that defeat to Wales would hand their opponents the Championship.
What was tipped as a potential rip-roarer of a contest failed to deliver, as Wales steamrolled their way to the trophy.
At 9-3 at half-time the game was still England’s to save, but Alex Cuthbert went over twice while Dan Biggar kicked his way to a hatful of points to consign the visitors to a very dark day indeed.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.