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Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 19:54 GMT

It was worth the pain - Eales

Australia celebrate their second World Cup win

Australia's World Cup winning skipper John Eales accused France of using unsporting tactics in their showdown at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Eales, celebrating his second Webb Ellis trophy having played in the winning Wallabies side against England in 1991, confirmed the French had used unsavoury methods as they attempted to unsettle the favourites.

Gouging claims

Asked about allegations of French eye-gouging, Eales - penalised himself for throwing a punch - said:

"Certain things happened on the field we weren't too happy about.

[ image: Front rowers David Giffin and Richard Harry show their delight]
Front rowers David Giffin and Richard Harry show their delight
"The French are such a good side, they don't need to play like that, but I don't want to go into that now."

Australia manager John McKay said four of his players had ended the game with eye injuries including Eales who attended a news conference with a blood-shot and bruised eye.

The French wore down the patience of South African referee Andre Watson, who became increasingly frustrated at their indiscipline.

The underdogs conceeded 16 penalties, seven of which were converted by Aussie full-back Matt Burke, many of them for deliberate spoiling tactics.

But Eales preferred to concentrate on his side's achievement in becoming the first side to win the trophy twice and declined to dwell on the subject.

'Huge sacrifice'

"We are very proud we have been part of our own history.

"We have been talking about this for the last four years, and there has been a lot of sacrifice made by the players and players' families.

[ image: Australia had the victory sewn up 15 minutes from time but it was a relief when the final whistle came]
Australia had the victory sewn up 15 minutes from time but it was a relief when the final whistle came
We knew that it was going to be a tough game, and we were very nervous all week because we were concerned about how well the French could play.

"World Cup wins are very special and this group of players have a special will to win.

"When we came out for the second half we got together in a circle and said to each other that we felt the points would come if we kept the pressure on."

Australia conceded just one try from six matches and Eales piad tribute to his tough-tackling team-mates.

"We take a lot of pride in our defence. It has been a feature of Australian teams in the past, and we knew that it was going to be very important if we wanted to do well in this tournament".

High emotion

Australian coach Rod Macqueen also played tribute to his players' hard work.

"A lot of preparation has gone into today and it was a very emotional dressing room afterwards.

"A lot of sacrifices have been made. Rugby is a very demanding sport these days, and it is nice to see the players reaping the rewards of their hard work.

"It is nice to see something that has been planned for so long come off in this way.

" We've had some wonderful support from people across the board, and we went into this game knowing that everyone was behind us."

Asked what he had said to the Queen on receiving the trophy, Eales, a Republican, said he had replied: "Thank you very much Your Majesty."

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