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Alex Spink: Why we will not quickly forget the 2015 Rugby World Cup

02 Nov | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Alex Spink: Why we will not quickly forget the 2015 Rugby World Cup

The Mirror rugby correspondent reviews his favourite moments from last six weeks and explains why the tournament will live long in the memory

Think Rugby World Cup 2015 and what springs to mind?

New Zealand’s triumph? England’s flop? Referee Craig Joubert legging it off the pitch at Twickenham?

What a six weeks it was, and what a box of memories it has left us with. 

The All Blacks ripping France to pieces in a revenge mission eight years in the making. 

Australia, down to 13 men, heroically defending their line against Wales. 

Argentina expressing themselves on a rugby field as never before, to the horror of an under-strength Ireland.

Wales, another team ravaged by injury, finding a way to beat England.

Fiji going the length of the field to silence the Millennium Stadium, and then bring it to its feet.

Perhaps your preference is for the snapshot: Aussie number eight David Pocock emerging from a breakdown with yet more turnover ball.

Or the beaming smile on the face of Mamuka Gorgodze when the stadium tannoy announced the Georgia flanker had been named man of the match against mighty New Zealand.

Perhaps the freeze-frame moments as Daniel Carter so expertly dropped for goal in the semi and final, successfully turning momentum New Zealand’s way first against South Africa, then Australia.

Or those twin acts of sportsmanship by the incredible talent that is Sonny Bill Williams.

First when he found distraught Springboks centre Jessie Kriel and gave him a consoling hug – a la Freddie Flintoff with Brett Lee during the 2005 Ashes – after the All Blacks had beaten South Africa to a place in the final.

And again when he picked up the young lad floored by a security guard as he ran on the pitch at the end of the final, returned him safely to his family and, as a parting gift, gave him his winners’ medal.

Maybe it is the misfortune of others which sticks in your mind.

Chris Robshaw’s fateful decision to turn down a penalty shot which would have forced a draw with Wales and instead opt for a (butchered) line-out that effectively ended their World Cup.

Or Scotland, with a line-out of their own standing between them and their first semi-final for 24 years, executed so poorly that control was lost and Joubert was given a fateful decision to make.

There was something for everyone at England 2015.

My overriding memory?

Well, that would be the day spent on the sun-kissed South Coast with the tournament less than 24 hours old.

There was excitement in the air.

Not only did the seafront look a picture, but the host nation had just beaten Fiji the night before, picking up a four-try bonus point on the way.

The future was alive with potential. Anything appeared possible.

And so it proved, if you were Japanese.

Wandering into the Amex Stadium, there was no sense that I was in for the most remarkable rugby-watching afternoon of my life since Jonah Lomu helped himself to four tries in the semi-final against England in Cape Town 20 years before.

It was not just that Japan beat two-time champions South Africa, but the manner in which they did it.

Like England, they turned down the draw in favour of a shot at glory. Unlike England, they knew what they were doing.

The explosion of sound and emotion inside the ground as super sub Karne Hesketh scored in the corner with the final play of the game was something that nobody present that day will ever forget.

From a moment of magic at the start to New Zealand’s 80-minute masterclass at the end – it has been wonderful, it really has.

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