February 9, 2011
The Barbarians' Tom David flings a pass to Derek Quinnell © Getty Images
France's victory over Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations reinforced their status as world rugby's most frustrating side, with their pace and purpose miles removed from the lethargic second-half showing that saw them ship 46 unanswered points against Australia back in November.
At the heart of their rejuvenated effort was fit-again Montpellier fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc, who set up Imanol Harinordoquy for a second-half try with an outrageous pass between his legs. With his effort in mind, we've selected some of our favourite trick passes in our latest Scrum Seven.
Quade Cooper - Queensland Reds 38-36 Highlanders, Super 14, 2010
The 2010 Reds were, to borrow a phrase popular in the ESPNscrum office, more fun than a bucket of monkeys. For years they were the tournament's under-achievers but under the tutelage of Ewen McKenzie they tore up the form book to become Super Rugby's great entertainers. At the heart of their effort was Cooper, who made hay with a pacy backline and a pack all too happy to join in. After a couple of seasons as a YouTube blooper star, the passes finally began to stick for the Kiwi-born playmaker, including an outrageous effort out of the back of his hand for Peter Hynes to score in the corner in a narrow win over the Highlanders. No wonder those league boys got themselves all in a lather.
Tom David - Barbarians 23-11 New Zealand, 1973
A late replacement for the ill Mervyn Davies, David played a central role in 'the greatest try of all time' despite his name being omitted from the matchday programme, so late was his call-up. The uncapped Llanelli flanker, who would later play four times for Wales, surged forward with the ball following Phil Bennett's unbelievable sidesteps, was afforded a place in Cliff Morgan's excitable commentary ('David…Tom David…the halfway line') and sealed his place on this list with an unbelievable one-handed sling inside to fellow Llanelli back-rower Derek Quinnell, who put Gareth Edwards over in the corner. What a score indeed.
Shane Horgan - Leinster 27-10 Brive, Heineken Cup, 2010
With 79 minutes gone of their Heineken Cup pool match against Brive and three tries in the bag, Leinster legends Shane Horgan and Brian O'Driscoll combined for a special bonus-point try back in January last year. Horgan's charge was followed by an immaculately-timed pop out of the back-door, a pass gratefully accepted by O'Driscoll to score out wide. The duo had messed about with the 'Gidley' in training, attack coach David Know having christened the pass after Aussie league star Kurt Gidley, making this try all the more enjoyable. Our favourite thing is the way in which the ball seems to stop dead in the air before O'Driscoll arrives on the scene.
David Campese - Australia 16-6 New Zealand, Rugby World Cup, 1991
Is it the mark of a great player to try anything once, or is it that they will try until it comes off? David Campese followed the second path in the 1991 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand and atoned after his horror pass gifted the 1989 British & Irish Lions a series win in Australia. Campo's 'miracle' over-the-head pass (at 3:30 in the clip) for Tim Horan to score is one of the all-time great World Cup moments and was just part of a virtuoso solo performance where he also crossed the whitewash to condemn the All Blacks to their first defeat at the tournament.
Gregor Townsend - France 21-23, Five Nations, 1995
The 'Toony flip' was one of the most celebrated moments in Townsend's career and proved that he could inspire at Test level. A magical inside ball, flicked out of the side of a French tackle, it released Gavin Hastings on a charge to the line and secured Scotland's first win over Les Bleus in Paris for 23 years. Townsend bagged his first Test try in the first-half and would later immortalise the flip by naming his autobiography Talk of the Toony. "It was just one of those things where you find a hole, get your arm free and someone reads you and runs into that space," he said. "It's a lovely memory."
Morgan Stoddart and Regan King, Scarlets 43-34 Perpignan, Heineken Cup, 2010
One of our favourite tries of last year saw the Scarlets' young guns roll back the years with some majestic passing to set up Rhys Priestland in the corner against Perpignan. The audacity of Morgan Stoddart's pass out of the back of the hand to Regan King is something special but the one-time All Black's duplicate of it, a matter of milliseconds after the ball came to him, is magical.
Mauro Bergamasco, England 36-11 Italy, Six Nations, 2009
With Italy returning to Twickenham for the first time since this fateful encounter this weekend, it would be wrong of us to ignore the contribution of star scrum-half Mauro Bergamasco to a classic game. His range of passing was textbook: ball either above the head or at your feet, giving the opposition maximum time to intercept or smash your ribs to bits. Classy stuff from the sometime flanker.
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