2003 Rugby World Cup final: where were our Wallabies then?

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Many of the current Wallabies were still teens when Australia was last in a World Cup final.

Matt Giteau is the sole Australian survivor from the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.

Twelve years ago, many of the current squad weren’t even contemplating a professional rugby career, let alone entertaining the possibility of being part of the next group to play in a World Cup final.

Captain Stephen Moore was still at the University of Queensland playing premier rugby, studying and watched the match, just less than two years away from his own international debut.

Number eight David Pocock had not long been in Australia, after his family immigrated from Zimbabwe.

Outside centre Tevita Kuridrani was still living in Namatakula, a tiny Fijian fishing village and his thoughts of a professional rugby career were still years away from being at the forefront of his mind..

But he did have someone to cheer for in the decider in Fijian Lote Tuqiri, who scored the opening try of that final.

“I was still 10 years old hen the World Cup was played in 2003 and we had a Fijian guy Lote playing for them and we were cheering for him in the village,” he said.

“Now, to be here, I’m just very honoured.”

Prop Scott Sio was a lot closer to the action, one of 82,957 fans who packed the Sydney Olympic Stadium for the final.

“I was at the game, it was a pretty special moment for myself,” he said.

“Obviously very disappointing for myself as a Wallabies fan but it was a great occasion to be there.

“Being a part of the crowd, it’s sort of amazing how now I’m going to be taking part of it as a player. “

Vice-captain Michael Hooper as well had partaken in some of the World Cup action, watching the 2003 semi between Australia and New Zealand and watched the final, something he says every player would have done.

The overwhelming sense of quiet is one Adam Ashley-Cooper will never forget, as he sat down to watch the game with his brother and mum.

He was still playing Sydney grade rugby, his sporting future uncertain in his eyes.

“It was a pretty quiet lounge room, pretty quiet household after that result,” he said.

“I was just playing grade at that time, colts in Sydney not knowing where my rugby was going.

“I was watching every game on the couch with my mum and my brother but, yeah, that was a disappointing end.

“We felt that just as much as the players, that’s for sure.”.

While disappointment was an overtone at the time, for halfback Will Genia, who at the time was a year 10 boarder at Brisbane Boy’s College, a sense of pride is his prevailing recollection.

“It was obviously heartbreaking for us Aussie fans at the time,” he said.

“I think the most amazing thing about it (though) was the way the whole country rallied behind the Wallabies and how proud we all were of the team and what they were doing at that stage.”