It is 15 years ago today that Sir Clive Woodward’s men lifted the Webb Ellis Cup after a stunning last-minute drop goal from Jonny Wilkinson sealed victory over Australia.
The game was played at Sydney’s Telstra Stadium (now Stadium Australia) with over 80,000 fans in attendance and royalty present from all over the globe.
England held a 14-5 lead at half-time, after a superb attacking move involving Lawrence Dallaglio and Wilkinson that culminated in England’s only try of the game, scored by Jason Robinson.
The Wallabies nearly staged the ultimate comeback behind the solid boot of Elton Flatley, who converted the crucial penalty to take the game to extra time.
England ultimately prevailed behind the boot of Wilkinson — one of the greatest players the country has ever produced.
Woodward has described the almost surreal moments just after his team hoisted the trophy in his weekly blog with the Daily Mail.
“When we finally got back to the dressing room and when the last VIP guest had left — Prince Harry had looked in along with the late Tess Jowell, who was minister for sport and had supported me so much — all my coaching team headed for the coach’s changing room.
“We sat, beer in hand in complete and utter silence for what seemed an eternity just taking in what had happened.
“Then Phil Larder piped up: ‘Well, what the **** are we going to do now?!’ It was just a magic moment with a brilliant group of people who I’ll never forget. As it turned out, it was also a very good question!"
Woodward went on to describe the pandemonium that erupted from the British fans at the team hotel and the unforgettable party that ensued.
“At about 2:30am, after all the media demands, a few of us had arrived late for the official function down at the harbour.
“About 3am we pulled up around the corner and there was our hotel, the Manly Pacific, besieged by thousands of England Supporters.
“We were the first of the England party back and when Jonny stepped out the place went totally bonkers — his life was never going to be the same again.”
England will look to replicate their success from 2003 in next year’s World Cup in Japan, where they enter the competition as one of the favourites to dethrone the mighty All Blacks.