England's monumental bid to create rugby history on this day 13 years ago failed at the final hurdle as South Africa were crowned world champions following a 15-6 victory in a tryless Stade de France showpiece.
The Springboks ended England's remarkable assault on world title glory by landing the Webb Ellis Trophy for a second time in 12 years.
But England, 80-1 no-hopers after losing 36-0 to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup pool stages 36 days earlier, made them fight every inch of the way.
And they could feel aggrieved at the final scoreline, given that wing Mark Cueto saw a 43rd-minute corner try not awarded by the video referee, while Springboks centre Francois Steyn's penalty clincher came after a dubious decision for obstruction.
In the end though, not even Jonny Wilkinson could complete England's mission improbable against a South African side – brilliantly coached by Jake White – that fulfilled what they always felt was their destiny.
Full-back Percy Montgomery kicked four penalties, while Wilkinson booted a double for England, yet their hopes of becoming the first country to successfully defend the World Cup ultimately floundered.
It was a typically resilient England performance though, despite them ending the final with reserve scrum-half Peter Richards in the back-row after substitute flanker Joe Worsley went off injured.