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10 Years On: Memories of England’s RWC Win

Last Friday saw the 10th anniversary of England’s 20-17 extra-time win over Australia in the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. For anyone who’s been living under a rock for a protracted period of time, here’s how it ended….

I watched the original game in a pub – The Marsh House in Huddersfield as it goes, which is actually no longer a pub but a very nice coffee bar.

My regular rugby buddy had thoughtlessly gotten married the weekend before and was in Malta on his honeymoon, so I flew solo on this one.

winThe pub was almost empty for the duration of the game (as it is a rugby league stronghold) with just a few punters taking the chance of early-morning beers. So empty that I think I was the only genuine England fan in there!

There was a Welsh RU fan in there, supporting England, and a stereotypical Scot supporting Australia. The only other guys watching the game were essentially neutrals; English, but rugby league fans, so watching out of a sense of curiosity rather than genuine passion.

So how did the morning play out? It was tense, so that meant that by 10:00 AM I was really quite drunk.

There was an early try for Australia, greeted with a rather in-yer-face celebration from William Wallace in the corner. He went quieter as the first half progressed, limiting himself to muttering about the biased refereeing of Andre Watson.

England’s try brought a roar of approval from my new best friend from Wales and me; the RL boys were of the opinion that it had taken a RL convert to get England over the try-line. I countered this by saying that even Wallace would have scored that after the work done by the union boys. General hilarity.

kickThe second half and extra time passed in a blur of tension and alcohol, until Jonny Wilkinson delivered the goods. My Welsh mate and I were leaping around and hugging; Wallace stormed out of the pub swearing; the RL boys agreeing that it had been a tense, epic encounter but that League was more exciting.

Suddenly, the pub started filling up – Sky Sports was screening Man Utd v Blackburn and all the wendy fans were arriving. Disgusted, I left and staggered home. But my day wasn’t done!

My wife was helping out at the church Christmas fair and I had to take the kids down to visit the stalls of overpriced tat. So I lurched around the House of the Lord for an hour or two breathing fumes over old ladies and eating mince pies that were more pie than mince, washed down with the weakest tea in Christendom.

And there’s still more to tell…. We’d promised the kids a trip to see Finding Nemo at the cinema, so I had to sit through that as well. Word around the camp-fire is I fell asleep and snored, but I couldn’t have, could I? Not on such a halcyon day as this?

Please post your memories of England’s RWC Win below….

Photo Credit: BBC and the Telegraph.


About DB9

Dave Beal played rugby league and rugby union for schools, colleges and clubs in his native West Yorkshire, as well as in Nottingham, Dorset and France, before having to retire through injury at 27. For the last 9 years Dave has been a junior coach at National 3 North side Huddersfield where he is about to launch his new U9 squad into the world of contact rugby. A level 1 coach and ELRA 2 referee, Dave is passionate about passing on all that is good in the game of rugby to the young players in his care. To read more of Dave's thoughts about rugby, follow his blog at http://rugbymusings.wordpress.com . View all posts by DB9

2 Comments to 10 Years On: Memories of England’s RWC Win

  1. I watched this at home with my sons, then 8 and 6.
    It was on at our club but I didn’t want to watch it without concentrating on it. That meant not having someone else’s commentary all over the game.
    As that kick sailed over the noise in our living room was epic. Had to go and apologise to the neighbours afterwards.
    A few things stick in my mind about it but they aren’t from that day.
    The first is the number of new players who pitched up on the very next morning at training.
    Secondly was the genuine look of shock on the players faces as they arrived back at Heathrow and were swamped by fans.
    It is a shame that the momentum that day delivered didn’t seem to be harnessed to its full potential and I really hope that when the RWC is held here we as clubs and the RFU as a whole really seize that opportunity.

  2. I remember watching it with my University rugby team at a pub and everyone just going crazy as the kick went over. It really inspired me to play rugby.

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