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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
The path to glory
Nick Farr-Jones during his playing days
Farr-Jones was the Aussie to lift the World Cup

In the second part of BBC Sport Online's interview with Nick Farr-Jones, the former Wallaby captain, looks back on victory in the 1991 World Cup.

In 1976, Australia unknowingly began their path to World Cup success.

A reluctant 14-year-old Nick Farr-Jones gave up his first love, football, for rugby after changing schools.

Seventeen years on, he captained Australia to their first ever World Cup win, beating England 12-6 in a still disputed final.

At school, though, Farr-Jones failed to gain selection to the first team and only went to watch his first rugby international a year before his own debut on the world stage.

There's no way Underwood would have scored. He still had miles to cover and the defence would have come acros
Nick Farr-Jones on the World Cup controversy

He recalled: "I never really aspired to play rugby - I guess a lot of English people back in 1991 wished it had stayed that way.

"I sort of fell into it by a mistake. I moved schools and my new school didn't play football. So that was that.

"I grew to love it and the international career just went from there."

Realistically, it was not until 1983 that he began to become dedicated to the sport, after being taken by his father to watch Australia play Argentina.

A year later, his father watched from the stands as Farr-Jones Jr made his international debut against England.

"Twickenham has always been my favourite ground and it was great to start my international career there," he said.

"It was a sensational day - the debut. To be passing the ball to Mark Ella was almost too much to cope with.

"The whole lead-up to the match seemed to go on forever - but the first half seemed to last three seconds and the second half two."

The moment Farr-Jones will forever be remembered for, however, was when he received the William Webb Ellis trophy, once again at Twickenham.

Arguments still reign over Australia's six-point victory, many suggesting a deliberate knock-on by David Campese robbed Rory Underwood of a certain try.

But the then Australian captain still sees the situation very differently.

"A lot of English people still go on about that one," he added, "but I don't know why as there's no way Underwood would have scored.

"He still had miles to cover and the defence would have come across."

He does, however, concede his side were lucky to have made it to the final.

Back at the quarter-final stage, the Australians were on the verge of a surprise exit from the tournament at the hands of Ireland when Michael Lynagh scored deep into injury time.

"I was injured so didn't play that game but there's no denying we were lucky to get away with that one," he revealed.

"But we outplayed New Zealand in the semis and England in the final so that was pretty special."

Couped up in a hotel in London, the Australians had little idea of the impact of their win Down Under.

Nick Farr-Jones lifts the World Cup
Farr-Jones loved playing at Twickenham

Telephone calls back home only revealed part of the story, climaxing in 100,000 fans lining the streets of Sydney on their return.

"We felt it was pretty special winning but rugby had only really gotten attention in the rugby-playing states before," he said.

"Suddenly everyone across the country was going bonkers.

"I remember being told we had to go on this open-top bus tour and I recall saying 'what's the point, no one's going to turn up'.

"But suddenly we were swamped by thousands of people. For months afterwards people were coming up and congratulating me. It was an unbelievable experience."

World Cup victory led to a 300% increase in the number of people taking up the sport in Australia and arguably shaped the side for Australia's next World Cup triumph eight years on.

Farr-Jones, though, feels his XV would have had the making of John Eales' 1999 winners.

"There's no question in my mind," he said. "It's always tricky to make comparisons but, in terms of the calibre of players, I think our '91 guys would have edged out a game.

"That said, I think the side I played in on my debut in '84 would have easily wiped the floor with our '91 World Cup winners."

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23 Sep 02 | International
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