Dubai: England rugby legends Jason Robinson and Will Greenwood hope memories of their 2003 World Cup win can inspire the next generation to a follow-up victory in 2015.
With the ten-year anniversary of England’s famous 20-17 victory over Australia in Sydney being celebrated this month, the 2003 squad have just held their first reunion. But, after the nostalgia of the Red Roses’ one and only Webb Ellis win, comes the inevitable question about when it will be replicated.
“Winning a World Cup is a peak. We dipped off because we were only looking forward to that game, there was no plan after that,” said Robinson of England’s inability to conquer the world again, speaking on the sidelines of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens, where he’s representing invitational veterans side Joining Jack.
“I think [current coach] Stuart Lancaster has done a good job to try and build it back up,” added the former full-back, who scored 140 points in 51 England appearances. “But we are not yet the finished article. There are a couple of years until the World Cup and we have to keep building, but they are in a better shape now than they have been in a long time.”
Greenwood, a former centre who scored 155 points in 55 appearances for England, said that despite the home advantage of the 2015 World Cup in England, the Roses still needed more experience.
“There’s no set amount of caps you need to have to win a World Cup but, by and large, you need 600. Fifteen men in a team, you do the maths and that’s 40 caps,” said Greenwood, who is in Dubai for the sevens as an HSBC ambassador.
“I’m not saying you’re not as good a player if you’ve only got 20 caps as opposed to 40, but caps give you experience and in a World Cup you need that to dig you out of a hole.”
Asked if the current squad — who would have been in their teens when England last won the World Cup — could look at 2003 as inspiration, Greenwood agreed: “As a unit, we hopefully showed what you can achieve if you set your mind to it — with a small group that are totally committed, dedicated and prepared to take a chance. I hope they can utilise this opportunity with it being on home soil and really push on.”
Robinson added: “When you are playing, you don’t realise how many people you affect. So many were inspired by 2003 but now we need another team to boost the next generation and this current squad is certainly capable of doing that.
“You’ve got to make the most of it. It only comes around every four years — having been there and got the T-shirt, I hope these guys take the opportunity to experience the highs that we were able to in 2003.”