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.
The 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.
The 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.