November 22 down the years
Wilkinson kicks England to the top of the world
A nation held its breath as Jonny Wilkinson kicked for glory ... © Getty Images

The greatest day in English rugby as Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop goal won England the World Cup in an epic 20-17 victory over Australia in Sydney. The Wallabies drew first blood with Lote Tuqiri notching a first-half try but the boot of Wilkinson and a try from winger Jason Robinson saw England take a 14-5 lead into the break. But back came Australia with fly-half Elton Flatley pulling his side level to force extra time. Wilkinson and Flatley then exchanged further penalties before England clinched the win in the dying moments. "Rugby could not have wished for a more dramatic conclusion to a great tournament, England a more fitting reward for years of sweat, or Jonny Wilkinson a better-timed drop goal for as long as he lives," wrote Kevin Mitchell in the Guardian.

Six years earlier and Old Trafford hosted an England rugby union Test for the first time. In what was Woodward's second game in charge of England, centre Phil de Glanville scored the home side's only try in a 25-8 loss to the All Blacks.

A bad day on Woodward's path to global domination as England struggled to a 23-15 win over Italy in a World Cup Qualifier at the McAlpine Stadium in Huddersfield. Again the referee was centre stage, Didier Mene described as "horribly pedantic … whistling the game out of existence". Woodward was unamused. "We could have easily lost this game. The mood is very disappointed. The backs played badly, the forwards played badly. We know we were lucky. We played a poor game but it's difficult when there are 47 penalties. They have to sort out this killing of the ball by the World Cup."

Massimo Giovanelli became the first player in Heineken Cup history to be sent off. Playing for Milan against Pontypridd, he was sent off 12 minutes from time for a deliberate head butt and received a 60-day ban. Pontypridd won the match 31-12.

The All Blacks suffered a humiliating defeat against North-West Counties in front of a crowd of 12,000 in Workington. Lancashire coach John Burgess did not hold back. "We beat them with heart and with courage. We out-thought them, confused them, and mesmerised them to prove that England has the players to shatter the myth of this Invincible New Zealand power. They are not ogres. They came here for a soft touch. We showed them that English Rugby just isn't a soft touch anymore." The 16-14 victory was the first ever win by a non-Test England combination against New Zealand.

In the first official post-war international involving a touring Dominion side in Britain, Australia beat Scotland 16-7 at Murrayfield.


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