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On this day in 2003: Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal gives England World Cup glory

Jonny Wilkinson celebrates after scoring the match-winning drop goal in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time drop goal gave England a dramatic 20-17 win over Australia in the World Cup final at Stadium Australia on this day in 2003.


The Wallabies led from the sixth minute when Lote Tuqiri outjumped Jason Robinson to score the game’s first try following a sensational cross-field kick from fly-half Stephen Larkham.

Wilkinson kicked two penalties, in the 11th and 20th minutes, to put England into a 6–5 lead and added a third in the 28th minute to make it 9–5.

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Max Whitlock
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Max Whitlock

Robinson then finished off a flowing attacking move to slide over at the corner for his side’s only try two minutes before the break.

Wilkinson missed the conversion, and after Leicester second row turned TV pundit Ben Kay knocked on with the line at his mercy England led 14-5 at half-time – a scoreline which failed to do justice to their first half performance.

Elton Flatley pulled back three points with a penalty seven minutes into the second half after the England scrum was penalised by referee Andre Watson and Wilkinson failed with two drop-goal attempts.

The misses began to look costly when Flatley kicked two further penalties, in the 61st and 80th minutes to level the scores and take the final into extra time.


England boss Clive Woodward sent on replacements Mike Catt, Lewis Moody and hugely experienced prop Jason Leonard whose first act was to let Watson know that he had arrived to sort out the problems his team was experiencing in the front row.

Wilkinson and Flatley traded penalties as the score remained locked at 17–17 but England regained possession from a Mat Rogers kick and won the line-out to advance deep into Australian territory after a Matt Dawson line break.

There were just 26 seconds left on the clock when Wilkinson kicked a right-footed drop goal to clinch a 20-17 victory and deliver England their first World Cup triumph.


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