The All Blacks‘ attempt at a World Cup three-peat ended against Eddie Jones’ England. In this extract from his new autobiography ‘My Life and Rugby’, Jones lifts the lid on the dramatic moments leading up to last month’s semifinal.
The players make the long walk from the dressing room to the tunnel. The usual echoing sound of studs clattering down a corridor is silenced by the blue carpet underfoot.
They walk quietly and steadily, one player following another as they head for the cauldron of heat and noise outside. England are led by Billy Vunipola, who wins his 50th cap today, and soon they stand at the entrance of the tunnel.
The Season: Hamilton Boys High School – Episode 3
Just before six in the evening, they get the signal. They walk out into the glare of the flashing cameras and the roaring acclaim of 70,000 spectators inside the stadium, with over a hundred million people watching them on televisions around the world.
Dark clouds roll across the sky and add to the sense of a gathering storm about to begin as the Japanese drummers add to the tumult and the drama.
There is a call for a poignant pause before the anthems. We remember again, in silence, the 87 victims of Typhoon Hagibis and the seven people who are still missing. Another 4000 Japanese people are still living in evacuation shelters. This is real life.
We, meanwhile, are just waiting for a game to start. The seriousness of that game, however, pulses through me after the anthems, as the two teams peel away into their separate halves. We know what is coming and we have prepared.
Our respect for the haka is profound. We understand that the All Blacks, drawing on Maori culture, are laying down a challenge to us.
We also know that they respect any opponent who accepts that challenge.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now