Rugby Union: THE TACKLE THAT SAVED THE GAME WORSLEY'S NO ORDINARY JOE; iRB RUGBY WORLD CUP 2007 FRANCE 80 MINUTES FROM HISTORY ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA, WORLD CUP FINAL STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS, SATURDAY, KICK-OFF 8PM WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL: ENGLAND 14 FRANCE 9 Flanker Goes from Zero to Hero. and Repays His Debt

The Mirror (London, England), October 15, 2007 | Go to article overview

Rugby Union: THE TACKLE THAT SAVED THE GAME WORSLEY'S NO ORDINARY JOE; iRB RUGBY WORLD CUP 2007 FRANCE 80 MINUTES FROM HISTORY ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA, WORLD CUP FINAL STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS, SATURDAY, KICK-OFF 8PM WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL: ENGLAND 14 FRANCE 9 Flanker Goes from Zero to Hero. and Repays His Debt


Byline: ALEX SPINK RUGBY CORRESPONDENT REPORTS FROM STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS

IN time we will forget the detail and remember only that Jonny Wilkinson came to England's rescue and kicked them into another World Cup final.

The memory will fade of captain Phil Vickery's stirring pre-match words, of his demand that his players sacrifice body and soul if that's what it took.

The story will be told and retold of how Wilkinson came back from the sporting dead to lead his country to glory with a penalty and trademark drop goal in stoppage time.

In time that will happen. But at Stade de France on Saturday night England had no concern for the future. And for nobody was that more true than Joe Worsley.

A week before he had come off the bench and conceded the penalty which allowed Australia a last-gasp shot at eliminating the world champions. He had stood holding his breath, crossing his fingers, praying to the God above that history would not condemn him to a lifetime of notoriety.

The kick missed and he was reprieved, but seven days on Worsley knew he owed his team-mates, big time.

He knew that when his captain called for someone to determine the outcome through their physicality, their guts, their bravery, that person must be him.

With France leading 9-8 and time running out he made his move. A player renowned for his brawn rather than his brain read the mind of French centre Yannick Jauzion and, in so doing, saved the day.

"I was on one side of the field and I saw four or five French guys lined up on the other, with Jauzion shaping to kick," said Worsley.

The kick was too strong but Julien Bonnaire tapped the ball back infield to wing Vincent Clerc. A nation rose as one to acclaim the match-winning try. They didn't see Worsley.

"I took a risk but thought it was one worth taking," he said.

"I cut behind the defensive line and got on my bike."

Out of nowhere Clerc felt contact on his boot and fell to earth, agonisingly short. With one swipe of his right arm villain Worsley had become hero Joe.

"The difference between winning and losing sometimes comes down to millimetres," said the flanker.

"After the week before it was good to make the tackle. …

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Rugby Union: THE TACKLE THAT SAVED THE GAME WORSLEY'S NO ORDINARY JOE; iRB RUGBY WORLD CUP 2007 FRANCE 80 MINUTES FROM HISTORY ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA, WORLD CUP FINAL STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS, SATURDAY, KICK-OFF 8PM WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL: ENGLAND 14 FRANCE 9 Flanker Goes from Zero to Hero. and Repays His Debt
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