With only six to pick, there are some high profile casualties that didn’t make the cut.
In relative terms, the 1995 World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and England had none of the nail-biting tension present in my final selection, but it was remarkable for the feats of one man who announced his arrival in world rugby in devastating fashion.
Jonah Lomu’s quartet of tries demonstrated a cocktail of speed, size and strength never before seen in the game. Despite the one-sided scoreline, which also featured an outrageous 50m drop goal from All Blacks No. 8 Zinzan Brooke, this game has endured for Lomu’s display, especially in the minds of every Englishman who saw it.
England’s 2003 final win over Australia also has a claim.
If not because of the quality of rugby, it deserves a mention for the sheer pressure it was played under. Neither side could pull clear of the other, even in extra time, and when it looked as though we would see the first World Cup to be settled by a penalty competition, up popped Jonny Wilkinson on his swinger to send England to rugby Heaven.
Western Samoa’s shock win over Wales in the 1991 tournament also ranks up there with the greats for the sheer romanticism it brought to the competition. The Islanders were rank outsiders to beat Wales and yet pulled it off with a display of brutish power and a sense of adventure we now associate so readily with the Pacific Island nations.
And who can forget the Lions of 1974? In truth, their entire unbeaten tour of South Africa adds up to a strong claim for their series-clinching third Test win.
Then there is the 1973 clash between the Barbarians and New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park, where Gareth Edwards scored what is still regarded as the greatest try in history.