Jonny Wilkinson - 15 years ago today...
Posted on 22nd November 2018 at 14:21
On this day in 2003 Jonny Wilkinson was the champion of the England team when he delivered his legendary kick...
After winning 24 - 7 over France in the World Cup semi-finals by winning several penalities, five of which scored by Wilkinson himself, England were on their way to the finals to be played on the 22nd of November 2003 against the hosts, Austrailia, who had just a day before defeated their rivals New Zealand 22 - 10. Having not got to the finals of a World Cup Rugby tournament since 1991, it was fair to say that things were tense, after over a decade of waiting England now had their chance to hold the golden trophy up above their heads for the first time.
The day had come at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney. There was a crowd of over 82,000 people and an astonishing 22,000,000 watching at home! After Kate Ceberano sung True Colours and the Sydney Children's choir and the Rugby World choir sung the theme of the World Cup, World in Union, the national anthems were sung and the game was set to begin. The game started and after six minutes Austrailia's Lote Luqiri scored a try after a amazing cross-field kick from fly-half Stephen Larkham. Luckily for England, Austrailia's conversion was unsuccessful as Elton Flatley booted the ball into the post. After a few minutes England began to pick up on their game. David Lyons conceded a penalty in the 11th minute following an infringement in the tackle and it was Wilkinson's time to shine. Jonny took the penalty from right down the pitch and scored fantastically bringing the score up to 5-3. Just shy of ten minutes later Wilkinson was at it again after Australia attempted to tackle a man without possession of the ball and put away another beautiful penalty kick bringing the scores to 6 - 5. England, now in the lead, were applying great pressure on the Aussies. Jonny tried a brilliant drop goal attempt but sadly was wide. No need to worry though because just 4 minutes later at the 26th minute mark Jonny was up for another penalty putting it away once again. Many attempts were played by the English in the following minutes until eventually... TRY from Dallagio bursting through the Australian back line and swiftly out pacing the Wallabies ending the first half 14 - 5 to England.
The second half came around and things were getting hot. England were leading against the hosts in the final of the World Cup! This was an unheard of feat until now! In the 47th minute the England scrummage was penalised and Elton Flatley scored the penalty for Austrailia. England became dominant in possession but were lacking in their finishing. Jonny Wilkinson had made two drop ball attempts both of which had come off in Australia's favour. In the 61st minute Australia won another penalty as the England scrum was penalised. Flatley was up to take it and put it cleanly between the posts. Australia were catching up and in the 80th minute Flatley yet again scored a penalty. Oh dear. England had lost their lead in the final minute of the game. The teams were now neck and neck as the whistle blew marking the end of regular time.
Extra time now and the Aussies kick off. Wilkinson had scored a penalty but was quickly mirrored in the 97th minute but Flatley. The score was 17 - 17 and the seconds on the clock were quickly running out. England were pushing hard up into Australia's half as they made a small break through but could not reach the try line. Then, with 26 seconds left on the clock Jonny did the impossible. He was thrown the ball after a scrum and instantly dropped the ball to score one of the most intense and amazing drop goals in rugby history.
England had won and finally, after 16 years of waiting, England were bringing home the Rugby World Cup trophy.
Today is Thanksgiving Day all England fans should be giving thanks to Jonny!
In an interview with Wilkinson, he recalls how he felt during that extremely tense situation:
"I'd had a couple of goes before which were very much pot shots, having a dig almost," the England 2015 ambassador told Press Association Sport.
"But for this one I was thinking that because of where the guys had put me, I can't miss....this must go over. I almost remember feeling like 'the others drifted wide but this one will go over'.
"I knew I'd hit it in such a way that it wasn't going to be the most powerful kick, but it was going to be accurate. I knew from fairly early on it was going over.
"What surprised me was I actually got lost in that moment, I didn't know where I was. I remember half celebrating, but not really celebrating.
"It felt like a surreal, dream-like situation. I had to ask 'is this really happening?' and that was my facial expression.
"Then there was the realisation that there was still time left and I really wasn't up for a third game-tying penalty from them before the end.
"There was the panic to get back and the urgency to get the ball off the field and finish the damn thing."
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