Former England Rugby Union winger Mark Cueto believes that Sam Underhill’s disallowed England try against New Zealand will haunt him for the rest of his career.
The 22-year-old thought he had inflicted defeat on the All Blacks after a stunning try in which he turned the New Zealand defence inside and out before touching down for what he thought was the game-winning try.
The try was, however, controversially ruled out, leaving England defeated against the world champions, when it looked so likely that they would win the game through Underhill’s try.
Cueto himself had a similar try ruled out in a World Cup final 11 years ago, and finds himself not being able to forget about it to this day, partly due to his new found fame as an after dinner speaker.
Whilst not in a game of similar importance to his, the disallowed try reminds Cueto of what happened to himself all those years ago, in which he had a try disallowed against South Africa in the World Cup final in Paris.
This would have been a career-defining moment for the former Sale Sharks winger, and perhaps the greatest moment of his career, but instead, his try was ruled out and South Africa went onto win the World Cup, beating England 15-6 at the Stade de France.
The former England winger has struggled to forget that ill-fated day and the try that never was, and he feels that Underhill will have the same problem, despite the 22-year-old shrugging it off straight after the final whistle.
“When it’s a big game, a World Cup final or England against the best team in the world, moments like that which define a win or a loss are rarely forgotten,” explained Cueto, who still to this day insists his leg did not touch the left touchline during a tackle before he scored the phantom try in the final in 2007.
“In the last three of four years I’ve probably talked more about that disallowed try in 2007 than I did for the following seven years whilst I was still playing. After playing you tend to end up in the hospitality environment, speaking at dinners and events and for me that always gets brought up.”
Based on what he has faced since the disallowed try in 2007, Cueto believes the same could be in store for Underhill in the future, even if it isn’t affecting him straight away.
Cueto’s new found role in hospitality leaves him very open to questions on controversial moments during his career, because let’s face it nobody wants to here about the times you made a good challenge, or scored a penalty, do they?
“You make a bit of a joke about how it could have changed your life, as in, ‘if it had been given and we’d gone on to win the game I wouldn’t be standing here singing for my dinner!
“It has passed into Rugby folklore. People remember the final for that moment, just as they will now always recall that All Blacks game for what Sam did.”
Cueto was quick to praise the try in question from Underhill, however, stating that England wing legend Jason Robinson would have been proud of the try himself.
“Rightly so too, it was an incredible try,” continued Cueto.
“Jason Robinson would have been proud of that finish. So whilst Sam will probably think nothing of it whilst he is still playing, when he hangs up his boots and reflects on his career, trust me he won’t be allowed to forget it.”
Sam Underhill and his teammates take on Australia in the final game of the Test series at Twickenham on Saturday, with the Bath flanker surely looking to put this recent setback behind him.