Jason Robinson has yet to watch a rerun of England’s World Cup success

By Sports Desk November 21, 2023

Winning the World Cup may be the highlight of Jason Robinson’s career but even two decades later the cross code star has yet to watch a rerun of England’s historic victory over Australia.

Robinson was a central figure in the 20-17 victory, showing his acceleration to outpace Wallabies Mat Rogers and Wendell Sailor and touch down in the left corner shortly before half-time.

It was to be England’s only try on a gripping Sydney evening that was ultimately decided by Jonny Wilkinson’s drop-goal with 28 seconds of extra-time remaining.

Yet beyond snatched highlights showing the most compelling moments, Robinson relies on memory alone to shape his recollection of the pinnacle of English rugby history.

“I go to events and forever see the clips with me sliding in, Jonny’s kick and Johnno (Martin Johnson) lifting the trophy etc, but I’ve not watched the game,” Robinson told the PA news agency.

“All I’ve ever done is play a game and then it’s on to the next game, the next game, the next game. That’s how life has been. I’ve probably been conditioned not to get attached to any one game.

“Funnily enough my eight-year-old wants to watch the final so at some point I’m sure we’ll stick it on and watch it in full.

“Some games, you think they’re better than they are. And then you watch them and see that you weren’t that great! I might be seeing that in the 2003 game.”

It was far from the end of Robinson’s career and only a year later he became the first black man to captain England, with the last of his 51 caps won in the 2007 World Cup final defeat by South Africa.

The boots were eventually hung up in 2011 having paused retirement in order to play for lower league Fylde and while a spell in coaching was quickly aborted, he has continued to find work as a motivational speaker and brand ambassador.

For all that has happened since, however, it was that momentous night in 2003 that had the biggest impact on his own life while also touching a multitude of others.

“It was hard for your life not to change. You come back and see the impact that it’s made on grassroots sport and the impact it had on fans,” he said.

“You’re going to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace and getting honours. You go somewhere and can’t buy a pint – everyone wants to buy you a drink – and you’re not paying for restaurant bills.

“We had an exposure that we’d never had before and we were being recognised far more than ever before.

“That was good because it gave rugby a massive boost because it was the first time we’d won anything since 1966. It was fantastic for us as players and we got lots of opportunities off the back of it.

“There are very few days when someone doesn’t come to me and say ‘I remember where I was when…’

“And they start to tell the stories of what it meant to them and what they did as a result of it. That just shows that even 20 years on it’s still had such an impact, it’s been huge.

“Because it’s the 20th anniversary, I’m seeing a lot more of the boys. We’re doing a lot of stuff together and that’s been brilliant.

“When you get back together and start to reminisce, you learn stuff from each other even after 20 years – things like how you felt. It was a special time. The comeraderie is still strong.

“We are that special group to have won the World Cup and we’ll always be the first ones to have done it from the northern hemisphere. Winning it is the ultimate.”

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