2003 Rugby Union World Cup

From Academic Kids

The 2003 Rugby Union World Cup was the fifth world cup in rugby history. It was won by England. Originally planned to be played in Australia and New Zealand, all games were shifted to Australia following a contractual dispute over ground signage rights between the New Zealand Rugby Football Union and Rugby World Cup Limited.

Twenty countries were represented at this event. The eight quarter-finalists from the 1999 Rugby Union World Cup all received automatic entry, with the other twelve teams selected from a qualifying series around the world.

The teams were divided into four pools of five countries, with the top two in each pool moving on to the knockout quarter-final stage.


Review of the Tournament

The pre-event favourites were England and New Zealand, with France, defending champions Australia and South Africa all expected to make strong showings.

Group stage

Early in the competition there was some criticism in the Australian media of mismatches when "minnow" countries were crushed by the rugby superpowers by 60 points or more. On the other hand, Japan, not a favoured team, acquitted themselves well in their opening matches against Scotland and France, although eventually being defeated. There were also reports of the South Pacific island countries of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa being handicapped through several of their players who play abroad being warned that their contracts would not be renewed if they played in the competition.

In the event, the group stage of the competition played out largely as expected, with only some tension as to whether some of the "developing" nations would overtake some of the weaker major countries for the second quarterfinal qualification place in each pool -- in pool A, Argentina lost to Ireland by only one point, which would otherwise have carried them into the quarterfinals in Ireland's place; similarly in pool B Fiji lost out to Scotland by only two points, while Italy put up a good performance in pool D. Many matches were rather one-sided, but with a number of exciting matches - with Samoa giving England a fright before conceding points at the end of the match, the South Africa - England match was a classic before England asserted themselves at the end of the match (and showing that the reorganisation of domestic rugby in South Africa since 1997 has tended to weaken the Springboks). Similarly the Australia - Ireland match was a classic match and Wales' performance against New Zealand demonstrated that the All Blacks, who were previously thought to be undefeatable, had a weak defence, while also showing that Wales were reviving from the long decline since their glory days of the 1970s.

Knock-out stages

The knock-out quarter final stage produced the widely predicted set of semi-finalists, although England again made heavy weather of defeating Wales -- England were widely rated the world's best team, but throughout the competition they made a habit of getting the expected results while not particularly impressing with the quality of their play.

The first semi-final produced an upset, when Australia defeated the hugely fancied New Zealand to become the first defending champions ever to reach the following championship final.

The final between Australia and England, played at Sydney's Telstra Stadium in front of a crowd of 80,000, 40% of whom were English supporters, was a dramatic match. In the 79th minute England were leading 14-11 when a penalty was awarded in Australia's favour, which Elton Flatley converted with the last kick of normal time to tie the match 14-14 and take it to 20 minutes extra time. With two and a half minutes of extra time remaining, and England leading 17-14, Australia were awarded another penalty which Flatley scored to tie the score again. With 20 seconds of extra time remaining, England's Jonny Wilkinson scored a drop goal to win the match and the world championship

Group tables

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
South Africa30118460315
Pool D
New Zealand40028257420

Four points for a win. Two points for a draw. One bonus point (BP) for scoring four tries. One bonus point for losing by seven points or fewer.


Group stage

Knock-out stages

Quarter finalists automatically qualify for the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup.

The England squad

See also

Template:Rugby Union World Cupfr:Coupe du monde de rugby 2003


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