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Rugby World Cup: Building Jerusalem

18:30 25 September 2015

Building Jerusalem is a must-watch for England rugby fans

Building Jerusalem is a must-watch for England rugby fans

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Moving documentary a must-watch for fans

Who doesn’t enjoy a stroll down memory lane now and again?

And a quiet Friday afternoon, ahead of a big Rugby World Cup meeting between England and Wales at the weekend, was the perfect time to finally get round to watching ‘Building Jerusalem’.

Released earlier this month, the documentary-style movie charts the build-up to England’s win in 2003 with honest testimony from matchwinner Jonny Wilkinson, coach Sir Clive Woodward and captain Martin Johnson, with some great archive footage too.

We see clips of Wilkinson as a rugby-mad youngster at Farnham RFC and Wandsworth College, get background on rugby’s overnight move to becoming professional sport and the arrival of Woodward as England coach, a tabloid scandal surrounding new captain Lawrence Dallaglio and players going on strike over image rights.

The film highlights the work England did with eye coach Sheryl Calder, Wilkinson’s elevation to the national side and the humbling 76-0 loss in Australia and 1999 World Cup disappointment before the team began to gather momentum for the next tournament.

After beating South Africa in their group, England labour past Western Samoa to set up a quarter-final meeting with Wales, but find themselves 10-3 down at half time and Welsh fans taunt Will Greenwood with chants of “Rodney Trotter, you’re going to win nothing”.

Woodward admits it was the most important half-time talk they ever had and Johnson says: “To lose would’ve been horrible.”

But after Jason Robinson’s break set up a try for Greenwood only one team was going to win and England take it 28-17, but Johnson adds: “We were angry and upset rather than happy to be in the semi-final against France.”

On a wet day England triumph 24-7 by ‘slow strangulation’ and Johnson reveals: “I said to Will Greenwood ‘bloody hell, we’re in the World Cup final next week mate’,” but the Australian media launched a ‘Boring England’ campaign in the build-up to the showdown with the hosts and t-shirts bearing the words ‘Stop Jonny’ go on sale to fans.

Johnson recalls how he told his team-mates to ‘do what we do to win games’ as footage of a press conference shows Woodward admitting: “We want to win the game and go home.”

Despite conceding an early try, three Wilkinson penalties and a memorable try from Robinson has England 14-5 up at the break.

Johnson says: “I’m thinking ‘we’ve got these, we’re going to blow them away’.”

But England fall foul of South African referee Andre Watson and Elton Flatley slots three penalties to send it to extra time.

“I remember looking round and thinking ‘we’ll win’. Be accurate, retain the ball, keep the pressure on them and the opportunities will come,” says Johnson.

Woodward adds: “We had to sort out the scrum, so I brought on Jason Leonard.”

Wilkinson and Flatley, with time almost up, trade further penalties but Johnson says: “There was no point cursing the ref, cursing your luck, you’ve got 90 seconds, lets see what we can do in this period.”

And, as everyone remembers, England make their way upfield into a position for Wilkinson to send his drop goal through the posts to win the Webb Ellis Cup in such dramatic fashion.

“It’s the only thing I’ve done in my career when I haven’t thought about it,” admits the deadly serious Wilkinson, who almost smiles when recounting the final whistle.

Woodward cannot help himself but grin widely, while Johnson offers a more sheepish smirk. Come on England.

*Building Jerusalem is available to download digitally and out on Blu-ray and DVD.

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