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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 15:02 GMT
Team spirit pulled England through
By James Standley

Will Greenwood celebrates England's World Cup victory over Australia

Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson may be getting most of the plaudits after kicking England to World Cup glory, but rugby union is a team game more than any other.

As Wilkinson is quick to acknowledge, he only gets the chance to strut his stuff if the rest of the team have combined to put him in the position to apply the killer blow.

Coach Clive Woodward places the primacy of the unit first and foremost - and this England team buys into it wholeheartedly.

Woodward values character as highly as pace and skill - and that has forged a team spirit that took England to World Cup glory despite enormous pressure during the tournament.

Derided by the Australia media as too old and too slow, England showed their immense self-belief by winning the World Cup in Australia's own back yard.

Centre Will Greenwood described the new world champions as "thirty tough guys who have been through a lot".

The final and the victory were as much down to them as it was to the team
England forward Lawrence Dallaglio hails the fans

He added: "We've had some good times and some bad times, but we just keep getting up and asking for more.

"I think that's the sort of spirit and never-give-in attitude that won it for us in extra-time.

"I think what we've been through we've learnt from.

"We're strong men, whether you count that as a rugby player, or as a person.

"There's 31 strong men who've gone down to Australia and won the World Cup."

England scrum-half Matt Dawson agreed.

"It was a massive squad effort," he said.

England fans cheer the World Cup win over Australia
England's fans played a key role in the World Cup triumph
"Yes, it's probably headed by Jonny Wilkinson, but we are all surrounded by some fantastic and very professional people."

While there were 31 men in the squad who played their part, there were tens of thousands more in the stands cheering on their team, and Lawrence Dallaglio was keen to acknowledge the role they played.

"Certainly from the quarter-final onwards you could really feel the number of England fans growing and growing," said the influential number eight.

"The semi-final in particular - when we walked out there was a sea of red and white shirts, which inspired the players.

"We felt a real connection, which possibly we've not had before.

"The final and the victory were as much down to them as it was to the team."





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