So the IRB RWC 2003 is at an end. Okay so the 3rd place play off still has to come, doesn’t it? but in reality the competition is all over.
All the pre-match verbal skirmishes came down to these last 80 minutes, or 110 as it turned out to be, after normal time ended in a draw. And final reaction: What a match. Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, nor was the best rugby played but did it ever keep my attention.
I’ll come out now and say that although I thought England the better team I wanted Australia to win. Maybe it was the old anyone but England mentality, but I was actually quite pleased for England when they won, so I think it was just that I had supported Australia against the All-Blacks and so stuck with them.
I am not an admirer of the way England play though, think they rely far too much on Wilkinson, but with conditions today, I think that they really couldn’t have played any other way.
And wasn’t it a nail-biter in the end? After the first half, with England leading 14 to 5 I was a bit worried that the game was over, but fair play to the Aussies. They came back out for the second half and didn’t let England score a single point. Then they scored all those vital points, 14 all at the final whistle, I really felt that the advantage was with Australia.
But what happened, Jonny Wilkinson. So England went back ahead by 3 points, only for Australia’s Flatley to bring them level again, and it looked as though the final would be heading for sudden death. And then Wilkinson again, with a great drop-goal, and well done to the English pack for giving him the space. Final whistle and the game was over. England champions of the world.
You had to feel sorry for the Australians, but more than that respect for the English team. The first Northern Hemisphere team to win become World Champions. It can only be good for rugby as a whole, and make the games more interesting. Maybe that was why I was not that disappointed that the Aussies lost; they had won it the previous year, and the year before afaicr. For them to win again wouldn’t have been great for the rugby world now would it.
So we now have the six nations to look forward to, and I am guessing England will be definitive favourites for the win, if not the grand slam.