Scrum Sevens
Level pegging
February 3, 2010
England centre Will Greenwood struggles over the line, England v Wales, World Cup, Suncorp Stadium, November 9 2003
Wales' tormentor in chief: Will Greenwood © Getty Images
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Teams: England | Wales

It's one of the most keenly contested rivalries in world sport, with both sides enjoying periods of dominance since their opening Test way back in 1881. England and Wales have met on 118 occasions, with 53 wins apiece and 12 draws. As they prepare to do battle again at Twickenham on Saturday, Scrum Sevens takes a look back at some of the most significant meetings between red and white.

England 16-12 Wales, Twickenham, 1974

The 1970s was a barren spell for England. Stodgy and unimaginative, the national side failed to cope with the brilliance of their Welsh counterparts and the hard-as-nails French. Their sole high point against the men in red came at Twickenham in 1974, where Andy Ripley's winning try secured a 16-12 victory.

Fly-half Alan Old kicked two penalties and a conversion for the red rose brigade, with Ripley's effort accompanied by another from wing David Duckham, a player so full of attacking vigour and pace that Welsh fans christened him 'Dai'.

Wales 11-9 England , Millennium Stadium, 2005

Wales embarked on their first Grand Slam in 27 years following a nerve-jangling victory over the old enemy in Cardiff, where the cacophonous roar of the Millennium Stadium crowd provided a breathtaking soundtrack.

The game belonged to the prodigiously talented Gavin Henson, whose 50 metre penalty won the game in the dying embers after Shane Williams had scampered over for the only try of the game out wide. Henson had earlier put in two mammoth, infamous tackles on England's debuatant Mathew Tait, but it was the laconic swing of his boot that etched his name in the history books.

Wales 6-25 England, Cardiff Arms Park, 1991

Will Carling led an England side in the early 1990s that enjoyed almost uninterrupted success over Wales. In 1991 Carling's men broke a hoodoo that had haunted English sides since 1963.

Seven penalties from the boot of Simon Hodgkinson and a try from combative flanker Mike Teague secured a first win in Cardiff for 28 years and paved the way for a Grand Slam. Making their debuts for Wales as youngsters were Scott Gibbs and Neil Jenkins, who slotted the first of his 1,090 Test points.

Wales 32-31 England, Wembley, 1999

With England in pursuit of a Grand Slam they arrived at Wembley to face Wales, who were using the home of English football as a base during the construction of the Millennium Stadium for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Tries from Steve Hanley, Richard Hill and Dan Luger had put England in control but a try from Shane Howarth and the ever-reliable boot of Jenkins had kept Wales in contention. Then, in a moment played over in the minds of Welsh fans ever since, Gibbs latched on to a pass from Scott Quinnell and carved through the English defence, stepping outside fullback Matt Perry to score, win the game and deprive England of the final Five Nations title, which instead went to Scotland. Scrum-half Matt Dawson later said of his Wembley memories: "I don't think of all those May Saturdays of my youth watching cup finals…I think of Scott bloody Gibbs."

England 28-17 Wales, Lang Park, Brisbane, 2003

The 2003 Rugby World Cup quarter-final found England and Wales in drastically different positions. England, Grand Slam champions, were in ominous form and eyeing the final, while Wales had suffered an ignominious Six Nations whitewash and were under constant pressure from an unimpressed home support.

Their rousing showing in a 53-37 loss to the All Blacks gave new hope and that showed as they played some free-flowing rugby to take a surprise 10-3 lead against England in Brisbane. Stephen Jones and Colin Charvis wrapped up tries, with Martyn Williams adding a third after the break. As much as Wales claimed to have played all the rugby, England had the ace in Jonny Wilkinson.

The fly-half punished every Welsh infringement, with his last-gasp drop-goal wrapping up a 23-point haul to go with Will Greenwood's try. Greenwood has scored more tries against Wales than any other Englishman, with seven in six games.

England 19-26 Wales, Twickenham, 2008

Just as Carling's England ended a long wait in 1991, Warren Gatland's first game in charge of Wales brought closure to a long-standing problem, how to win at Twickenham. The hard-nosed Kiwi had already thrown a cat amongst the pigeons by selecting 13 Ospreys in his starting line-up and looked to be in for a lashing at the hands of the press as England powered into a 16-6 lead thanks to a Toby Flood try and 11 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.

Wales, outclassed across the field, had no answer until England spectacularly self-destructed in the second-half. Lee Byrne rounded off a flowing move to bring the visitors back into contention and moments later scrum-half Mike Phillips pounced on Iain Balshaw's indecisive clearance to score the winner. As in 2005, victory over England first up provided fuel for a Welsh Grand Slam.

Wales 21-19 England, Cardiff Arms Park, 1981

JPR Williams played his final Test against England, at the time reigning Grand Slam champions, in 1981. The legendary fullback faced white shirts 11 times in Tests, winning all 11.

Dusty Hare scored all of England's points in Cardiff with a try and five penalties, but after Brynmor Williams had tricked Clive Woodward into straying offside, Steve Fenwick blasted over the winning Welsh points from the kicking tee. Wales' centenary season proved to be a mixed bag and they finished level with England in the Five Nations, with France notching their third Grand Slam.


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