In an extract from his new book, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Robert Kitson talks to the former England head coach about glory in 2003 and the missed chances to build a legacy
Two decades have passed since England became the first northern hemisphere nation to lift the men’s Rugby World Cup. It remains a Where were you? moment and, increasingly, a cautionary tale. Did English rugby properly maximise the legacy of Sir Clive Woodward, Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil Vickery and all the other household names who delivered the fabled pot of gold? Or was it simply a high-class blip, the product of a remarkable bunch of players who would have stood out in any era?
At the time it felt slightly surreal. England arrived at that tournament as indisputably the best team in the world. It was, everyone agreed, their World Cup to lose. No one had ever said that about an English men’s side before. Or since. Woodward, whose tenure ended less than a year after his team’s finest hour, makes no attempt to massage the truth. “I always felt we won the World Cup despite our system not because of it.”