Performing under pressure – remembering England’s dramatic 2003 World Cup win
England’s dramatic final push for Rugby World Cup glory in Sydney 20 years ago had one of Clive Woodward’s favourite acronyms laced all the way through it.
Woodward loved his buzz words and phrases – “doing 100 things one per cent better than the opposition” was one particular stand-out – but nothing came close to ‘T-CUP’.
Thinking Correctly Under Pressure was at the very heart of England head coach Woodward’s all-conquering team, and they delivered a masterclass during a nerve-shredding climax that culminated in Jonny Wilkinson’s drop-goal for the ages.
Locked 17-17 with host nation Australia as the extra-time clock ticked down, England triumphed with what they knew would be their final scoring chance.
Lewis Moody received the ball at the back of a lineout, then Mike Catt ran at Australia’s defence and scrum-half Matt Dawson gained further vital ground by slicing through a gap before he was halted and became trapped at the bottom of a ruck.
Amid no sense of panic, though, England captain Martin Johnson carried possession on into a wall of gold Australian shirts, giving Dawson time to regain his position before his pass found Wilkinson, whose winning strike – from the fly-half’s weaker right foot – sailed between the posts.
“I’d had a couple of goes before which were very much pot-shots, having a dig almost,” Wilkinson told the PA news agency on the 10th anniversary of England’s World Cup triumph in 2013.
I knew from fairly early on it was going over
“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 knew I had 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.