Rugby World Cup history: England rule the world in 2003
Wilkinson's drop goal steals the show
Last Updated: 11/09/15 2:50pm
Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson led England to success in Sydney, although New Zealand fail to fulfill their potential once again...
Originally due to be held in New Zealand as well, the 2003 tournament was moved solely to Australia after a contractual dispute.
Again 20 teams took part, although the farcical quarter-final play-offs were dropped in favour of the tried and tested four-pool format. There was also a return to the eight quarter-finalists from the previous edition automatically qualifying.
That gave Australia, France, New Zealand, England, Scotland, South Africa, Argentina and Wales free entry.
Making up the remaining 12 teams via qualification were Ireland, Italy, Georgia, Romania, Canada, the USA, Uruguay, Japan, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Namibia.
Unfortunately, the minnows once again struggled against the top-tier countries - although the format ensured these sides were able to continue their development.
Argentina and Fiji almost recorded shock wins against Ireland and Scotland, though, laying the foundations for the next tournament.
The controversy of the pool stages came in the England-Samoa match, with Clive Woodward's men having fielded 16-men during a brief spell - although England escaped with a slap on a wrist following a disciplinary hearing.
With the predicted sides reaching the last eight, the quarter-finals also went to form.
Wales, having pushed New Zealand hard in the pool, gave England a scare or two before succumbing 28-17 - with the boot of Jonny Wilkinson being key.
The All Blacks ran in three tries as they beat a disappointing South Africa side 29-9, while Scotland slumped to a 33-16 defeat after a disappointing second half against Australia.
Ireland had fancied their chances of reaching the semi-finals for the first time, however their hopes evaporated during a nightmare first half, with France running in three unanswered tries.
A fourth try followed after the interval and although the Irish rallied it was too late as France held on for a 43-21 victory.
That meant New Zealand v Australia and France v England would make up the last four - with the All Blacks and England expected to progress into the final.
However things didn't quite go to plan as the All Blacks suffered a 22-10 defeat to the Wallabies, with an interception try from Stirling Mortlock after nine minutes and the boot of Elton Flatley sealing the win. The match, though, was marred by the serious neck injury suffered by Ben Darwin.
The second semi-final was preceded by tears before the kick-off, with England talisman Lawrence Dallaglio blubbing at the national anthems as the emotions of the occasion got to him.
The game never really came to life, with the deadly accuracy of Wilkinson breaking French hearts. The fly-half landed all 24 of England's points, including three drop goals.
A crowd of 82,957 packed into the Telstra Stadium - and millions more tuned in around the world - for the final.
Things didn't start well for England, though, as Lote Tuquiri scored the opening try - and although England dominated the rest of the half they managed just three penalties as the clock ticked down, with Ben Kay missing the best chance of a try when he knocked on close to the line.
However England got the try they deserved just before the break when Jason Robinson took the scoring pass from Wilkinson to outpace the Australia defence.
Having led 14-5 at the break, England looked on their way to victory - however the Wallabies, cheered on by the home support, clawed their way back into the game.
Flatley was on target with two penalties and then he levelled the match in the final minute to force extra time.
England and Australia swapped penalties in the extra 20 minutes - but with sudden death approaching, scrum-half Matt Dawson and then captain Martin Johnson set the platform for Wilkinson to land the winning drop goal.
The successful kick sparked jubilant scenes, with England finally avenging their 1991 heartbreak.