History of the Rugby World Cup: 2003

2003 saw the only Northern Hemisphere victory as England’s supreme organisation secured a Grand Slam-World Cup double.

England’s first big test was in the group against South Africa – the 25-6 scoreline was slightly flattering. The quarter-finals were memorable only for the way in which Wales tested England, leading for much of the match. This left one all-Southern and one all-Northern semi – the hosts Australia saw off a miserable New Zealand and Jonny Wilkinson’s boot saw off France (the French lost by 17 despite scoring the game’s only try).

The final made the tournament, and remains perhaps the best ever. The hosts shot off the blocks with a superb early try from Lote Tuqiri, which was equalised late in the first half by Jason Robinson, which alongside three penalties gave England a comfortable lead 14-5. However, three Elton Flatley penalties were the only scores of the second half as the visitors were blanked, and thus the game went to extra-time. England finally got some points, only for Flatley to strike again to bring it to 17-17 right at the end. Step up Jonny Wilkinson, who literally wrong-footed the Aussies for the game’s winning field goal right twenty seconds from the whistle.


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