The was won by England who defeated Australia 20 points to 17. The match went into extra time, in which Jonny Wilkinson kicked a dropped goal in the final minute to seal England’s first Rugby World Cup title.
Path to the final
Australia opened the 2003 Rugby World Cup at Telstra Stadium in Sydney, where they beat Argentina 24–8. The next two pool games were against tier 3 nations Romania and Namibia. The match against Namibia resulted in a 142–0 smashing. The last pool match was against Ireland at Telstra Dome in Melbourne, where the Wallabies escaped with a one-point win, 17–16. They finished clearly on top of their pool, with 18 table points and a massive for and against.
England were in Pool C, and kicked off their campaign with an 84–6 win over Georgia, which was then followed by a match against their biggest opposition in the pool, South Africa. However, England beat the Springboks 25–6. Their third pool match against Samoa was a lot closer, England winning 35–22. Their final pool match was against Uruguay, which England won 111–13. England finished first in their pool, four table points ahead of the Springboks.
Australia met Scotland in the quarter finals at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, and beat them 33–16 to go through to the semis, where they would take on their old rivals, the All Blacks. England beat Wales in their quarter final, 28–17, and went through to meet France in the semis. The Wallabies prevailed 22–10 over New Zealand at Telstra Stadium. The following day England beat France 24–7 at the same venue.
Kick-off was preceded by performances including Kate Ceberano singing True Colours (a theme throughout the World Cup), the Sydney’s Children Choir and the Rugby World Choir singing the Rugby World Cup’s official theme song. Following these performances, the traditional national anthems were performed by Australia and England.
The first points of the final were scored by Australia, in six minutes, Lote Tuqiri outjumped the much shorter Jason Robinson and scored a try, following a sensational cross field kick from Wallaby fly-half Stephen Larkham, the conversion unsuccessfully crashed against a post. Jonny Wilkinson kicked a penalty goal for England in the 11th minute, bringing the score to 5–3. A further penalty goal by Wilkinson in the 20th minute took England into the lead, 6–5. In the 28th minute, following a Wallabies infringement Wilkinson slotted a penalty to make it 9–5. Following a flowing attacking move involving English forwards and backs Robinson slid into the corner for a try for England in the 38th minute. England led at half-time 14–5.
Flatley kicked a penalty goal for Australia at the 47th minute, following the England scrummage being penalized by referee Andre Watson taking the score to 14–8. With England dominant in possession but lacking in finishing Wilkinson made 2 unsuccessful drop goal attempts. England’s forwards were again penalized by Watson in the 61st minute, and Flatley kicked the penalty goal for Australia. England were again to suffer when Flatley kicked a penalty goal on the 80th minute, taking the score to 14-14, and the match headed into extra time.
With nerves frayed among both sides and the thousands of fans in the Telstra Stadium Wilkinson and Flatley both scored penalties to put the score at a tantalising 17–17. After having the ball returned to England from a Mat Rogers kick, and with 26 seconds on the clock, Wilkinson kicked a drop goal right-footed and England held on to win their first Rugby World Cup 20-17.
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