Poll: Is Japan’s Rugby World Cup win the biggest sporting shock?


Japan’s captivating 34-32 victory over South Africa on Saturday reminded us all of how we love an underdog story.

Available to back at 66/1 prior to the start of the match the Pool B opener looked to be going one way.

But with the The Cherry Blossoms looking to make their mark on this World Cup, they dug deep in front of a packed crowd at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton to pull off the most unlikely of victories.

The joy in the faces of the likes of Karne Hesketh and Ayumu Goromaru said it all as Eddie Jones’ side marched to their first ever victory over a side that had been third-favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy next month.

Today’s poll puts a very simple question to you; what was the biggest sporting upset of all time?

Here are a few alternatives to the weekend’s events…

USA v Soviet Union – 1980

While ice hockey from the 1980s may not be many people’s strongest sporting memory, there is no doubting the shock that came at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

The Soviet Union were a dominant force on ice at the time, winning the gold medal at the previous four Olympics and 14 of the last 17 World Championships.

The team of American college students seemed to have no chance, but in a tale of courage with a real bite of Cold War-era one-upmanship to boot, the USA triumphed in a 4-3 victory dubbed ‘The Miracle on Ice’.

James Buster Douglas v Mike Tyson – 1990

Prior to stepping into the ring ‘Iron Mike’ had fought, and seen off, 37 challengers to his undefeated record.

It was perhaps understandable then, that ‘Buster’ came into the fight as a 42/1 underdog. That didn’t perturb the man from Ohio though, as he came through round-after-round with Tyson in Tokyo.

Then in the 10th, a brutal combination landed sweetly to send Tyson to the mat for the first time in his career. After looking around for his mouth-guard, he tried in vain to get to his feet and fell foul to the referee’s count, handing Douglas the World Heavyweight Title.

Greece – Euro 2004

The Greeks may have won eight of their 11 games prior to the start of Euro 2004, but pitted in a group with Spain and Portugal, few gave them a chance of progression.

But with the Spaniards slipping up against the hosts, Greece slipped through on goal difference. The unlikeliest of victories against France before an extra time success against Czech Republic saw them make the final.

And when Angelos Charisteas headed in just before the hour mark, the deed was done to pull off one of the biggest shocks in international football history.

Pastor Maldonado – 2012 Spanish Grand Prix

The biggest betting upset of the lot as the Colombian defied 500/1 odds to take the chequered flag in Catalunya.

Known for crashing more than winning, the then-27-year-old was still available to back at 12/1 before the lights went out, even though he started on pole position, after Lewis Hamilton was demoted for a technical infringement.

Fighting off all comers in his Williams, Maldonado protected his consistently depreciating lead to land his first, on so far only, Grand Prix victory. 

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.