England winning the World Cup is not an achievement that the country has become used to. Indeed if history is anything to go by it is a once - perhaps twice - in a lifetime event. The Three Lions football team won the football World Cup on home soil in 1966 before 10 years ago to the day the rugby union side had their moment.
Brazil have had their fair share of World Cups, but there are a lot of sides in the Northern Hemisphere - such as Germany and Italy - who have had periods of success in football. Until 2003, however, the Southern Hemisphere had utterly dominated international rugby, which makes the achievement of captain Martin Johnson and his team all the more remarkable.
And of course, it would not be an England success without drama right until the very end. After 42 days of rugby and 48 games played in total the margins were so tight that it was all level in the final with less than 30 seconds to play in extra time. Jonny Wilkinson was about to have his moment.
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This was Sir Clive Woodward's England; a physical side able to stand toe to toe with any team and which had developed a winning brand of rugby. He was a stickler for percentages and, much like Sam Allardyce in football, was always looking to gain slight advantages where his team was narrowly stronger than the opposition. In 2003, this worked to a tee.
England, incredibly, were the favourites going into the event, having seen off all the big Southern Hemisphere sides in the build-up and holding the Six Nations Grand Slam. Of course, being recognised as the favourites and going on to win a tournament are two different things, but with Wilkinson in the form of his life England were certain to be right up there at the end.
At the time England were renowned for their conditioning and the meticulous preparation that they put in before each and every contest. Every player in the team had information about his opposite number, such what sort of decisions he would make and which way he tended to turn. England's success was in their planning, and in the final against hosts Australia they needed every ounce of this detail.
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On the balance of play, it should not have required a last-minute victory. Indeed, England should have been well ahead after the first half, despite the strong Australian start. Lote Tuqiri scored inside the opening six minutes to suggest that England were in for a tough day, but the boot of Wilkinson - with three unanswered kicks - and sheer force pulled them back into the game.
A rare mistake from Ben Kay, who knocked on with only the line to beat, with 10 minutes of the half remaining must have had the visiting crowd thinking that this was not their day, but there was to be a nine point lead at the break after all when Lawrence Dallaglio powered through for Jason Robinson to squeeze over the line. It was 14-5, but the Wallabies were not finished yet.
Wilkinson's kick to come would not be the first moment of drama in this gripping final. England were looking as though they would cling on to a 14-11 victory, but Elton Flatley converted a nervy late penalty after Wilkinson had missed a drop goal a few minutes prior. It was going to extra time.
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The match continued to be about the boots of the respective fly-halves. Wilkinson put one more between the posts just after the extra period got underway, but Flatley again levelled the scores, this time with three minutes until sudden death. With just enough time for one more score, and the kickers level on four each, who would be the hero?
Wilkinson. The top scorer in the tournament with 110 points to this moment, found a few yards of room to put a drop goal - with his weaker foot, too - through the posts for one of the most dramatic finishes to a sporting final ever. To recognise this, 750,000 supporters lined the streets of London upon the team's return to the country. Their heroes had done it.body check tags ::