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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 10:49 GMT
Campo's knock-on effect

Rugby's greatest ever try scorer David Campese speaks out in the latest installment of BBC Sport Online's Legends series.


Campese frustrated England in the 1991 World Cup final
Campese frustrated England in the 1991 World Cup final
In 1991 Australia became world champions and David Campese was named player of the tournament.

But one particular incident will be forever ingrained in the memory of any England fan.

In the Twickenham final, with England launching a dangerous late attack, the world's greatest try scorer knocked the ball on with Rory Underwood seemingly certain to score.

The home side felt they should have been awarded a penalty try but Australia escaped and Campo has never been forgiven.

Not that it keeps Campese awake at night.

"My memory of the game against England was that we won," he said.

"We beat England in Australia that year by 40-15 and they were the Five Nations champions. So we just proved that they were nowhere near our class.

"And in the final we won. It doesn't matter how you win as long as you win."

It's not an incident - we won the World Cup - that's all that matters

Campo on his 1991 World Cup knock-on
Pressed further about the incident that ended the dreams of the class of '91, Campese shows no sign of mercy.

"What incident? You mean the incident in the first few minutes when I could have scored that try when the ball bounced the wrong way?

"I've spoken to a lot of people and asked them what they would have done and they all said they would have done exactly the same.

"So it's not an incident. We won the World Cup - that's all that matters.

"It's 2002 - you can't change it, so get over it."

The side of 1991 helped put rugby on the map in Australia and certainly turned Campese into a star.

He was at the peak of his career and notched up six World Cup tries. That, allied to his style of play and penchant for talking a good game, made him popular back home.

"We won the World Cup because we had a great side," he added. "Everyone peaked at the right time.

"And we weren't supposed to win - that was what made it so special.

"In 1995 we were supposed to win and we never did anything so the unpredictability was very important for us.

"I played well, Nick Farr-Jones played well, Tim Horan played well. We had about nine star players and any one of them you could rely on.

"I think we were mentally tired in the final. It had been a long six weeks so to win a World Cup is something I'll always remember."

Campo's late mistake against the Lions lost the series
Campo's late mistake against the Lions lost the series
In a 14-year international career that brought 64 tries, 101 caps and 315 points there are numerous highlights.

But there have also been low points, with the mistake that led to Ieuan Evans' try that sealed the British Lions series win over the Wallabies high on the list.

But for Campese it has been a fantastic roller-coaster ride that he never expected.

"I had a good time and a lot of fun," he added. "The games that really stand out are probably my first game and my last ever game.

"There was a lot of good and bad in between, you can't change that so you just have to enjoy the moment while you're there.

"I think the highlight of my career was basically travelling the world and having the opportunity to meet different people and see different places.

"I come from a small town of 24,000 people and when I look back I actually had never thought about travelling the world.

"Rugby came along and gave me that opportunity."


Rugby heroes
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