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Why England's semi-final victory over All Blacks meant more than World Cup title

England loose forward Tom Curry has revealed that their World Cup semi-final upset over the All Blacks in October meant more to some English fans than winning the tournament.

Speaking to the Daily Mail as part of a ‘Great Sporting Moments of 2019’ series, the star 21-year-old, who played a leading role in the 19-7 defeat of the New Zealanders, said the result was savoured among the English faithful despite their ill-fate in the World Cup final against South Africa a week later.

“Someone came up to me and said, ‘The World Cup will be remembered for you beating New Zealand, not South Africa winning it’,” Curry said.

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“That probably hit me the hardest as it showed just how much the result of that one game meant to people here.”

Former England coach and World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson labelled the win as “the best in English rugby history” in a match where the All Blacks were uncharacteristically dominated across all facets of the match.

Prior to kick-off, England had surprised the Kiwis by lining up in a V-shape formation when facing the haka, and many believed that that challenge spurred Eddie Jones’ side on to produce a spell-binding performance in Yokohama.

“Their players were just looking around and didn’t seem to be able to fix on anyone,” Curry said.

“It gave me a lot of confidence because it looked like they were a bit unnerved by what we had done. They are just used to staring someone out.

“I also remember Manu’s try so well, because it was everything we had spoken about – the quick start, going at them, not letting them attack us. We were always at them.”

It’s an assertion that has been backed up by Curry’s teammate and fellow loose forward Billy Vunipola.

?”We wanted to send a bit of a message ourselves – bring it on,” the 27-year-old No. 8 said.

“That’s what they do when they’re doing the haka. They’re laying it down, so we thought, ‘Bring it on, we’re coming back for you a little bit’.”

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Vunipola’s older brother and England loosehead prop Mako doubled down on his sibling’s sentiments.

“We wanted to make sure they understood that we would be ready for the fight,” he said.

“We knew it would rile them up, it probably felt like we disrespected them. We meant no offence by it, we just wanted to let them know we were ready.”

While the English matched their pre-match challenge with a performance which nullified everything that the All Blacks threw at them, they couldn’t replicate their efforts in the tournament final against the Springboks a week later, going down to Rassie Erasmus’ men 32-12.

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Why England's semi-final victory over All Blacks meant more than World Cup title
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