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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 21:58 GMT
Rugby stars win team award
England celebrate winning the Rugby World Cup

England's World Cup winning rugby squad have picked up the team award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show.

Captain Martin Johnson collected the award from Australian legend David Campese, who had been highly critical of England in the lead-up to the World Cup.

"There were some true legends in the studio tonight - and David Campese!" Johnson told BBC Sport.

"But he's got over 100 Test caps so give him credit, he's a legend of the game of rugby union, he has a right to say what he wants."

Johnson, who played earlier in the afternoon in a Heineken Cup tie for Leicester, said he was honoured to be part of the BBC show's 50th anniversary.

"To be here with so many legends is incredible - it's just amazing to be here," he said.

"We wouldn't have missed it for anything and to get an award as a team is a massive honour."

The team began 2003 by sweeping aside the competition in the Six Nations while rarely looking at their best.

But an impressive victory over Ireland clinched the Grand Slam for the first time in eight years.

England's fans were delirious - but it was merely the beginning of an unforgettable 12 months in which England lost only once in 17 matches.

On their tour down under, Jonny Wilkinson scored all England's points in a nail-biting 15-13 win over New Zealand.

The Australian media were unimpressed, accusing Woodward's side of playing one-dimensional rugby.

The team answered the critics superbly - running in three tries in a breathtaking 25-14 victory, England's first win over the Wallabies on Australian soil.

In the build-up to the World Cup, an England reserve side thrashed Wales before succumbing to their only defeat, a narrow 16-15 reverse against a full-strength France.

Revenge came quickly and ruthlessly, England's first team crushing France's reserves 45-14 a week later.

Success bred added pressure and England arrived at the World Cup as second favourites behind New Zealand.

In the initital stages, England looked tentative but the team, led magnificently by Martin Johnson, remained resolutely focused on the ultimate goal.

Shrugging off criticism, again mainly from the Australian media, of their reliance on Jonny Wilkinson, England burst into life against France in the semi-finals.

And victory over Australia in the final was the result not of one Wilkinson drop goal, but the culmination of four years of hard work and focus from what is now recognised as one of the greatest English teams of all time.

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