Revealed: how player power changed the course of England's World Cup odyssey
Rugby World Cup For the rugby league competition, see .
The Rugby World Cup is the premier international rugby union competition. The event is organised by the sport's governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), and is contested by the men's national teams. finalists.
After last month's 36-0 defeat by South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. , which left England dubbed the worst team ever to attempt to defend the Webb Ellis Cup The Webb Ellis Cup, also referred to as the "Webb Ellis Trophy" or "Bill", is the main prize of the Rugby World Cup. The trophy is named after William Webb Ellis, who is often credited as the inventor of rugby football. and in danger of not even making the quarter-finals, the players and coaches knew rock bottom had been reached and decided major changes were required in tactics and preparation. Those changes will be put to the test no one expected in Saturday's final where England again meet South Africa.
The flanker Joe Worsley Joseph Paul Richard Worsley MBE (born 14 June 1977 in London) is an English rugby union player who plays flanker for Wasps and England. Biography
Worsley was educated at Hitchin Boys' School and Brunel University and joined London Wasps at the age of 16 from Welwyn RFC. , whose ankle tap An ankle-tap or tap-tackle is a form of tackle used in rugby union or rugby league.
It is used when the player carrying the ball is running at speed and a defending player is approaching from behind. on Vincent Clerc Vincent Clerc (born May 7 1981) is a French rugby player who plays on the wing. Although he is small, he is a dangerous finisher when given the ball.
Born in the city of Échirolles, suburb of the south of Grenoble (Isère), Clerc first played rugby at FC Grenoble, helping nine minutes from time against France on Saturday night not only saved a certain try but marked the turning point in the semi-final, said that the honest appraisal of where the campaign had gone wrong, with no one holding back, marked a sea change in their approach. The players took the lead in shaping a tactical change of direction.
"We knew that our preparation in the four years since we won the World Cup had not been great," said Worsley. "Everything was topsy-turvy with changes in the management and the team, and we started this tournament poorly. We had a long meeting as a group after the South Africa game and resolved to go about things differently.
"The management decided to change the way we trained because we were getting turned over on our own possession far too often and were unable to get the ball wide quickly, and we all agreed that we needed to adopt a different style of play. We have improved in every game since. We did not make any rash promises but took all the criticism we [received] on the chin and moved forward together."
The centre Mike Catt Michael John Catt MBE (born 17 September 1971) is a South African-born English rugby union footballer who plays for London Irish, having previously played for Bath.
Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Catt's mother was English, and as a student he toured England. admitted that he did not believe England had a chance of retaining the World Cup following the South Africa defeat and, like Worsley, said the no-holds-barred meeting the following day marked the turning point in the holders' defence of their trophy.
Exactly what was said in the heart-to-heart that morning will come out in the wash one day," said the 36-year-old Catt, a winner in 2003. "We have been a different team since then, from a management and a playing perspective, but it is still completely different from four years ago. We were the favourites in Australia and expected to win every game. This year no one fancied us and I have to admit that, considering where we were last month, I am surprised that we are in the final.
"If you had asked me then whether I thought we had a chance, I would have said never. What's happened? Fate, I suppose. I just hope there is one more surprise to come. Beating Australia boosted our confidence hugely and there is still more to come."
The lock Simon Shaw Simon Dalton Shaw (born 1 September 1973 in Nairobi, Kenya) is a rugby union player who plays at lock for Wasps and England.
At 6' 9” (2.05 m), he is one of the tallest men to play for England. said experience and self-belief had got England to the final and given them the chance to become the first team successfully to defend the trophy. "I went into the South Africa game with my head down and not really thinking about the wider picture," he said.
"That went for a number of other players and we had several things to sort out in the meeting the following day. From that moment on we were playing knock-out rugby and it has brought the best out of us. Having beaten the hosts on their home ground we fear no one. It was an incredibly tough semi-final: we put so much into stopping their driving maul that my body went into shutdown in the final 20 minutes. Somehow I gutsed it out."
Lawrence Dallaglio Lawrence Bruno Nero Dallaglio MBE (born on August 10, 1972 in London) is an English rugby union player, the former captain of the English national team. He plays as a flanker or Number 8 for London Wasps, he has never played for another club, having arrived at Sudbury as a said of France's tactics: "France tried to wind down the clock with 10 minutes to go and that is a dangerous thing to do against us. We knew we could work our way into a position to score and there is no one better under pressure than Jonny Wilkinson Jonathan Peter Wilkinson OBE (born 25 May 1979 in Frimley, Surrey) is an English rugby union player and member of the England national team. From 2001-2003, before and during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Wilkinson rose to fame for being one of the world’s best rugby players. ."