Imagine Rugby Blogs

One of rugby's finest 100 minutes

It was a World Cup final to remember... England v Australia 2003

Posted Aug 17, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

Martin Johnson lifts the World Cup in 2003

Sporting occasion brings about so much drama and none more so than the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final when England’s all-time leading points scorer Jonny Wilkinson rifled a drop goal over with his weaker right foot with just 26 seconds of extra time remaining to beat Australia.

It remains one of the greatest sports matches I’ve ever seen and demands legendary status for a few reasons. Firstly, it was England’s one and only World Cup triumph so far. Secondly, it was the first time a Northern Hemisphere nation had won the Webb Ellis trophy. Thirdly, did I mention England won? Fourthly, we won it in the Aussies’ back yard. And finally, we beat the Aussies!

Now if that doesn’t make it legendary then what does hey?

I have to admit that I’ve always liked watching football more than rugby but this win, coupled with the fact I had interviewed Lewis Moody before and during the World Cup whilst working for a local Rutland newspaper (he was a former Oakham Schoolboy and Oakham is the ‘capital’ of Rutland), propelled the game to the dizzy heights I’ve only ever experienced when watching what is more frequently becoming known as soccer. Pesky Americans, I blame them for that misdemeanour!

This was the first Rugby World Cup I had ever watched and I have to say I was thoroughly entertained throughout and the final was impressive. It was a golden generation for England with the likes of Martin Johnson, Neil Back, Matt Dawson, Jason Robinson, Will Greenwood and Richard Hill and, with years of hard work and preparation, they lived up to the billing of potential champions.

And in that moment when the ball was thrown back to Wilkinson and he lined up that drop goal – it was one of those moments where everything slowed down and the wait was pure agony – they crowned a magnificent achievement for England and English rugby. Great memories.

Four years later, and with many of these star names gone, England were given no hope of any success but the English spirit shone through and we reached the final again, unfortunately losing out 15-6 to South Africa.

Let’s hope 2011 is as much a success as the last two World Cups. C’mon England!

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