Team profile series looking at the Rugby World Cup records of the 12 directly qualified teams for England 2015.

After becoming the first – and still only – northern hemisphere side to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, England returned home to a heroes’ welcome.

http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/teams/profile/teamid=34.htmlOfficial RWC 2015 site – Spotlight on England

Amid scenes more reminiscent of Beatle-mania at its pomp, Englands triumphant squad was greeted by an estimated 750,000 people at a street parade in London to celebrate their victory in Australia.

For many of the Class of 2003 their lives would never be the same thereafter. However England never seriously looked like becoming the first side to successfully defend the title and South Africa won 15-6.

ENGLAND ON THE RWC STAGE

After becoming the first – and still only – northern hemisphere side to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, England returned home to a heroes’ welcome. Amid scenes more reminiscent of Beatle-mania at its pomp, England’s triumphant squad was greeted by an estimated 750,000 people at a street parade in London to celebrate their victory in Australia. For many of the ‘Class of 2003’ their lives would never be the same thereafter. Inspirational coach Clive Woodward became a ‘Sir’ as he and the rest of the successful squad engaged with royalty, literally so in the case of hard-tackling centre Mike Tindall, who would later marry Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter.

England’s World Cup win, based around a dominant pack, superb defence, the unerring boot of Jonny Wilkinson – whose right-footed drop goal in the final in Sydney will never be forgotten – and magical moments from Jason Robinson, elevated the profile of the game to previously untouched levels. But retirement from international rugby beckoned between World Cups for many of the inspirational figures on show in Australia, and, in 2007, England’s hopes of defending the trophy looked extremely slim after they had been beaten 36-0 by South Africa just two games into the tournament. But England rallied marvellously, producing a scrummaging masterclass to deny Australia in the quarter-final before beating France to set up another showdown with the Springboks in the final. However England never seriously looked like becoming the first side to successfully defend the title and South Africa won 15-6. 2011 was a different story altogether in that it was a hugely disappointing effort throughout. England’s torture on and off the field in New Zealand was eventually ended by France in the quarter-finals.

Prior to their win in 2003, England’s track record in World Cups had been patchy to say the least.

By their own admission, England’s players took the inaugural event in 1987 as a bit of an end of season jolly, but not much fun was had by anyone as they lost an uninspiring quarter-final at the hands of arch-rivals Wales. England co-hosted the second Rugby World Cup in 1991 and, thanks to a strong forward platform and Rob Andrew’s control at fly half they recovered from defeat to New Zealand in the opening game to make it through to the final at Twickenham. A change of tack to a more attacking game plan, due, some would argue, to goading from opponents Australia, did not have the desired effect and England were unable to… Read more>

 

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