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Ranking the 15 Best Tries of 2021 for Men’s International Rugby

| December 10, 2021 12:23 pm PDT

It’s been fun looking back over what feels like hours of footage of the best tries of 2021.

In case you didn’t know, we’ve had a huge year when it comes to big scores. With the Six Nations, the Rugby Championship, the Lions, and the Autumn Internationals all producing moments of magic, choosing just 15 has been tough.

But enough of the moaning.

Let’s get to the very best tries of 2021 in men’s international rugby, in no particular order.

15. Sevu Reece

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Wales vs. New Zealand
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

I had good seats for this match and was very lucky to get to see this one in real-time. But I’ll happily watch on repeat.

The All Blacks headed to Cardiff in October 2021 as the Rugby Championships titlists to meet the reigning Six Nations kings, Wales.

Although the Welsh were missing a fair few players, even at 100% fit and full, they would have had little chance of stopping New Zealand that day.

There were a couple of scores that I could have added to this list of 2021’s best tries in rugby. But Reece’s beat the lot.

Sublime.

14. Marika Koroibete

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Australia vs. South Africa
  • Competition: 2021 Rugby Championship

They don’t call Taniela Tupou the “Tongan Thor” for nothing.

Tupou was like a man possessed against the Springboks in the second leg of the Rugby Championship tie.

Bursting through the world champion’s defense with brutal, raw power, the Queensland Red’s prop found Marika Koroibete with a slick no-look offload that would have made any back proud.

13. Luca Sperandio

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Italy vs. France
  • Competition: 2021 Six Nations

Italy has failed to do much of note in the Northern Hemisphere’s premier international rugby tournament.

Earlier this year, Luca Sperandio gave fans something to cheer about with a masterful piece of creativity against France.

Although Antoine Dupont’s score in the same match was terrific, I think Sperandio’s just about topped it. For individual brilliance, it has to push the superb scrumhalf out of the picture.

Well, just about.

Why not check out both tries and make your own mind up?

12. Raffi Quirke

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: England vs. South Africa
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

South Africa’s final match of a long, long 2021 came against the English at Twickenham.

England’s players, who had not clashed with the Springboks since being trounced in the Rugby World Cup in 2019, were more than up for the game.

Although it was as tight as one would expect, a spark of creativity between England’s backs was ultimately the decisive factor in a match that came down to the wire.

11. Duhan van der Merwe

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: England vs. Scotland
  • Competition: 2021 Six Nations

Scotland headed south to Twickenham to take on the reigning Six Nations champions in the first round of this year’s tournament.

It had been a long time since the Scots had come away with a win in London and were desperate to end that losing skid. By hook or by crook, Gregor Townsend’s men would be leaving with four points. And they did.

Thanks to the ferocity of colossal winger Duhan van der Merwe, Scotland won for the first time against England at Twickenham since 1983.

Finn Russell and a couple of others were, particularly on point. But VDM was top-notch.

10. Lukhanyo Am

  • Position: Center
  • Game: South Africa “A” vs. The Lions
  • Competition: 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour

Nominated for the World Rugby Try of the Year, Am would ultimately lose out to another on this list.

Whether politics was at play, especially given the South African Rugby Union’s less than friendly relations with the board, is possible. However, it’s not something that I am really interested in right now.

You can check out all the nominees, below.

So, let’s get back to talking about the top tries scored in rugby in 2021. Step forward Mr. Am.

This try was a sublime piece of link-up play between Springboks super-winger Cheslin Kolbe and outside center, Am.

Beautiful stuff.

9. Louis Rees Zammit

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Wales vs. Fiji
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

Wales has received more cards than a rich divorcee this year.

The Welsh once again saw one of the opposition cop red for a reckless challenge just 25 minutes into the match. No excuses for Eroni Sau, who deserved his marching orders.

Fiji then had two further players sin-binned, but still plugged away and came close to turning the hosts over.

Despite a poor Welsh display, one of the highlights of the match was young star Louis Rees-Zammit’s fantastic kick and chase try on the 74-minute mark.

The flying winger managed to beat three defenders to cross the line for another highlight-reel score.

Rees-Zammit was nominated for the Breakthrough Player of the Year at the 2021 World Rugby Awards. He missed out on that gong to the excellent Will Jordan.

8. Keith Earls

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Ireland vs. England
  • Competition: 2021 Six Nations

Despite only turning 34 in October, it feels as though Keith Earls has been around a lifetime.

The Munster man turned the clock back with a show of incredible vision and pace as 14 men Ireland put the English to the chopping block in Dublin.

The highlight of the match was Earls’ try from a smart setpiece straight from the playbook of former captain and now forwards coach, Paul O’Connell.

Check it this cool breakdown of the try by EK Rugby Analysis.

7. Rieko Ioane

  • Position: Center
  • Game: France vs. New Zealand
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

Ioane scored a belter of a try against the Wallabies in this year’s Rugby Championship.

His five-pointer against France in the Kiwis’ humbling loss in November was one of the top tries of the year in 2021.

With the French 24-11 up with 50 minutes on the clock, an error allowed Sam Whitelock to land an overturn. The ball was spun out to Rieko Ioane, who ran from his own half before slipping through a gap in the home side’s defense.

Ioane was away and crossed to bring the Kiwis back into the game.

6. Pierre-Louis Barassi

  • Position: Center
  • Game: France vs. Australia
  • Competition: 2021 July Series

Barassi’s majestic score against the Wallabies received multiple nominations for the best try of 2021.

The visitors would ultimately lose what was an incredible test match, but not without registering a few excellent scores on the night.

Of course, Barassi’s topped the lot.

You can look at the highlights below, or simply skip to the 47-minute mark for the Lyon center’s trip over the whitewash.

5. Luke Jacobson

  • Position: Fullback
  • Game: New Zealand vs. Argentina
  • Competition: 2021 Rugby Championship

Another one of the best rugby tries of 2021 to miss out on the top award, Jacobson’s score is super memorable.

With a play starting inside the Kiwis half, TJ Perenara saw an opportunity of the left-wing and set the ball rolling.

All Blacks maestro Beauden Barrett punched through a gap in the Pumas’ defense before launching a disgustingly beautiful one-hand pass to release Jacobson for the five points.

Beautiful.

4. Waisea Nayacalevu

  • Position: Fullback
  • Game: Wales vs. Fiji
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

Fiji’s score from inside their own 22 was one of the highlights of an excellent Autumn Internationals.

With just 14 men on the pitch, Fiji’s Seta Tuicuvu caught a poor kick from Dan Biggar on the mark before launching a counterattack against the Welsh.

The Brive man beat two of Wales’ defenders before fiding Vilimoni Botitu who hit the sweetest of passes to team captain Waisea Nayacalevu.

Check out what happens next.

3. Damian De Allende

  • Position: Center
  • Game: South Africa vs. New Zealand
  • Competition: 2021 Rugby Championship

Am might have missed out on topping the list of the best tries of 2021.

But he makes another appearance in yet another fantastic score for the Springboks.

The world champions took on the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship at Australia’s Cbus Super Stadium in the Gold Coast.

Looking to get on the scoreboard early, the mighty Boks forced an error from the Kiwis that presented them with an opportunity to go for the jugular.

Codie Taylor’s error led to Am finding the ball before releasing a spectacular behind-the-back pass to Sbu Nkosi. Nkosi pulled Jordie Barrett in with a faint before letting Damian de Allende loose in the corner.

Brazen.

2. James Lowe

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: Ireland vs. New Zealand
  • Competition: 2021 Autumn Internationals

Although a star man for Leinster, James Lowe’s international career didn’t quite start off with sparks.

Lambasted in the Irish press, the New Zealand-born winger caught flak for a series of blunders and poor performances that led many to question his place in international rugby.

Just one week before the All Blacks were due to come to town, Lowe crossed the line to help Ireland to a 60-5 demolishing of Japan. That felt like revenge for the stunning loss at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Another team that battered the Men in Green at the World Cup was New Zealand, who were looking for their own revenge following their first loss on Irish soil in 2018.

The Kiwis left Lansdowne Road with their tails inbetween their legs, flattered by the 29-20 scoreline. But for James Lowe — who initiated Ireland’s 3rd win over the All Blacks in five years with this sublime try — it was like manna from heaven.

What a score.

1. Damien Penaud

  • Position: Winger
  • Game: France vs. Scotland
  • Competition: 2021 Six Nations

Last, but not least, is what many fans believe to be the best of best tries scored in 2021.

Damien Penaud’s score won the International Rugby Players’ Men’s Try of the Year award. While he had some stiff competition from many, if not all the above, the Frenchman’s piece of individual brilliance was truly outstanding.

The team effort here can be understated. The French worked their way through the park before the ball landed in the hands of the devastating Malakai Fekitoa.

Fekitoa’s offload was about as sexy as you will ever see. This gave Penoa the opportunity to charge for the line.

What happens next is simply world class rugby,

That’s a Wrap

There you have it. The fifteen top rugby tries of 2021 in the men’s international game.

While it was admittedly tough to whittle things down to 15, the fact that I intended to only cover the top ten tells you everything you need to know about the task at hand.

With that being said, my inbox is always open to readers who have a suggestion or want to have a dig at my selections. If you think I’ve missed something, drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to take it onboard.

For more insight, odds, and betting advice on the sport, check out our rugby blog.

Until next time!

Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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