Rugby grabbed the world's attention for arguably the first time in its history as England won the Webb Ellis trophy after a scintillating final against Australia.
Newspapers in non-rugby playing countries were emblazoned with pictures of Jonny Wilkinson, whose drop goal in the dying seconds of extra-time made him one of sport's new global stars.
The victory brought England's first major sporting trophy since the footballers' World Cup triumph of 1966.
And the triumph sparked huge celebrations back home, which culminated in a victory parade through London and a meeting with the Queen.
But it was not all sweetness and light down under in a tournament which took time to get going.
Minnows were consistently annihilated in the pool stages, Uruguay and Namibia among those shipping 100-plus points in a game.
Criticism over such pointless contests mounted, with occasional games proving an exception.
The joy etched on the faces of Georgia's stars as David Dadunashvili scored their one and only try will take time to be forgotten.
And while no upsets happened in the pool stages, Wales were given an almighty scare by Tonga, Samoa made England look shabby and Scotland only just scraped past Fiji.
As it happened, the predicted quarter-final line-ups were spot on as Australia took on Scotland, France lined up against Ireland, New Zealand faced South Africa and England were pitted against Wales.
Already attention was turning away from England and the All Blacks, the pre-tournament favourites, after failing to impress in their pools.
The focus was on fly-half Frederic Michalak and his French team-mates as they cruised past all opposition.
Michalak lived up to expectations as France coasted past an Irish side, who had only been edged out by world champions Australia 17-16 in their final pool game
Scotland similarly ran the Wallabies close in their quarter, before eventually capitulating.
There was to be no upset for South Africa but Wales twice came close to extraordinary shocks.
Almost a laughing stock against Tonga, the Welsh were the surprise package of the tournament after their second-string side ran New Zealand ragged in the pool stages before losing 53-37.
Restored to full strength against England they were again formidable but the professionalism of Clive Woodward's side proved too much.
The first semi-final produced the only real shock as New Zealand were beaten 22-10 by Australia.
Right from the word go, the hosts stifled the All Blacks' potent runners, who were made to look startled and amateur.
All that remained was a tense contest between England and France, which failed to materialise as Michalak froze under the pressure and England took control.
In the final itself, Australia nudged ahead with a Lote Tuqiri try only for England to lead 14-5 at half-time as Jason Robinson hit back.
After the re-start, England took control only for the Wallabies to hit back.
Elton Flatley scored the only points of the half, producing a pressure penalty to take the game into extra-time.
He produced a kick of similar importance towards the end of extra-time to again level the scores.
And with the game 26 seconds away from sudden death, England piled forward, Wilkinson stealing the glory with his drop goal.