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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Josh Lewsey's column
Josh Lewsey
Josh Lewsey
England back and 2003 World Cup winner

During the week building up to the final I was asked: "Would it be harder watching from the stands if England win or if they lose?"

I can now say that unquestionably it's harder when you lose it.

Injury kept me on the sidelines, but like everybody out there, it's frustrating, as you want to try and do something about it.

The first thing to say about the game was that on Saturday night, we were beaten by the better side.

England players are dejected after losing the World Cup final to South Africa
England players are dejected after losing to South Africa
You don't mind losing out to a better team and it just wasn't our night.

We did not play as well as South Africa did and top-level rugby is all about fine margins - as witnessed by our wins over France and Australia.

We deserved to win both games but still the Australia match came down to a penalty at the end that was missed by Stirling Mortlock, while last week against France we won with a late drop-goal.

Against South Africa, some of the technical elements of the game weren't as good as they have been in the last couple of weeks but in terms of effort and commitment you can't fault the guys.

There is obviously a lot of argument over the disallowed Mark Cueto try early in the second half and you can't deny it was a real turning point in the game.

South Africa then got two penalties and we were two scores away from them.

We had to play catch-up rugby, but doing that against a side like South Africa with their form of defence is very difficult.

Test matches sway on one event like that and it was very important.

Although that try was a really close call, in the cold light of day you have to be philosophical.

Mathew Tait's break set up Mark Cueto's lunge for the line
Mathew Tait's break set up Mark Cueto's lunge for the line

You can start blaming this or blaming that but we still had opportunities to win the game. That's sport.

South Africa deserved to win and you have to pay your respects to a fabulous group of guys and a great country. They have done fantastically well.

For England, I think there are a lot of things to be positive about.

A lot of players made their mark in this tournament and Mathew Tait came of age in the final.

After the injury to Jason Robinson he was asked to play at full-back, a position that he is not familiar with, and he did very well.

He made the break for the disallowed try and to perform on such a massive occasion is impressive. We all know his ability and he showed that against South Africa.

Hopefully we did ourselves proud in terms of endeavour, commitment and desire

Again our fans were superb, which is how they have been throughout the whole tournament.

They have supported us through the good times and the bad times and we salute them.

One of our biggest motivating factors is to play for people like that and the fans back at home. Unfortunately we didn't come away with the trophy.

The journey that we have been on over the last few weeks has been extraordinary.

We were completely written off before this tournament but we are going home as World Cup runners-up. We have had a great run.

We had a few beers on Saturday night and we now need to forget about rugby for a while, go back home to our families and back to normality.

It's been a long, long journey and I think the guys are now looking forward to going home. Life goes on.

Hopefully we did ourselves proud in terms of endeavour, commitment and desire.

We couldn't have given more and hopefully we have made people back at home proud of our jersey again.

  • Josh Lewsey was speaking to Mark Orlovac in Paris.

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