Australia v England: World Cup history

by staff

Anglo-Australian rivalries are some of the biggest in sport and that between the Wallabies and England falls squarely into that category. As Australia prepares to take on England in their crucial pool match at Twickenham, we look at how the teams have shaped up at the World Cup in the past.

1987 Rugby World Cup pool game

Australia 19 (Tries: Campese, Poidevin Conversions: Lynagh Penalties: Lynagh 3) - England 6 (Tries: Harrison Conversions: Webb)

The first World Cup saw Australia take on England at Concord Oval, now the home of Sydney’s Wests rugby club. Former flyhalf Michael Lynagh was pivotal with his kicking that day, with 12 points off his boot contributing to Australia’s ultimate 19-6 victory. David Campese and Simon Poidevin scored Australia’s two tries that day. The Wallabies went on to top the pool, before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by France.

1991 Rugby World Cup final

Australia 12 (Tries: Daly Conversions: Lynagh Penalties: Lynagh 2 ) - England 6 (Penalties: Webb 2)

The English went into the final attempting to crack the code that was Australia’s high-scoring attacking style. Ultimately, though, one converted try proved enough for the Wallabies to clinch the tournament at Twickenham. It was prop Tony Daly who crossed the line in the opening half with one of just four tries he scored through his Wallabies career. It was number eight Willie Ofahengaue who broke away from the lineout, crashed his way through the English defence and put Daly over.

1995 Rugby World Cup quarter final

Australia 22 (Tries: Smith Conversions: Lynagh, Penalties: Lynagh 5) - England 25 (Tries: T. Underwood Conversions: Andrew Penalties: Andrew 5, Drop goal: Andrew)

One chapter in what has become an enthralling rivalry, England got the better of the Wallabies for the first time in a World Cup, knocking Australia out in the quarter-finals. WIth one try each and the boots of Australia’s Michael Lynagh and England’s Rob Andrew neck and neck at full-time, the game went into extra time. England snatched a crucial line out just into extra time and Andrew kicked a 45 metre drop goal to break Australian hearts.

2003 Rugby World Cup final

Australia 17 (Tries: Tuqiri Penalties: Flatley 4 ) - England 20 (Tries: Robinson Penalties: Wilkinson 4 Drop goal: Wilkinson)

Eight years later, Australia and England met again in one of the most iconic games in Australian sporting history. In front of a packed Olympic Stadium in Sydney, the two sides would once again compete for the highest honour in rugby. Both had scored just one try in regular time, with scores 14-all after 80 minutes. Wallabies inside centre Elton Flatley and England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson slotted penalties in extra time and the teams could not be separated as the shadows of extra time loomed large. Infamous probably doesn’t go anywhere near describing Wilkinson’s ultimate last-gasp drop goal that stole the World Cup for England by three points.

2007 Rugby World Cup quarter final

Australia 10 (Tries: Tuqiri, Conversion: Mortlock, Penalties: Mortlock) - England 12 (Penalties: Wilkinson 4)

The boot of Wilkinson once again proved the difference for Australia in the 2007 cup, with the England flyhalf kicking four penalties to clinch the side’s two-point win. Australia scored the only try of the match when Lote Tuqiri crossed in the 33rd minute but there were few opportunities to score in a tight, grinding match.