Chasing The Chariot by Mick Collins
Shortly after 11 a.m. on Saturday, 22 November 2003, a young man from Surrey half-volleyed an oval ball over a Sydney crossbar and sparked something truly extraordinary. Having long been the bridesmaid, English rugby became, temporarily at least, the nation's favourite sport. A fortnight later, almost a million people flooded the streets of London to celebrate with their new-found heroes. The road ahead, however, would prove to be riddled with potential potholes. Against this background of triumph and celebration, Mick Collins spoke to players who had helped win the Webb Ellis Trophy on that dramatic day in Sydney and at length to the coach who planned its capture. He met the fans who cheered them on and talked to lesser, more cheerfully humble, players - those who dream of becoming the stars of the future and those who have accepted that such achievements are not to be. From the day of the World Cup Final after which, so the pundits claimed, rugby was going to become bigger than ever before, Collins immersed himself in the game and its people. He looked around for evidence of this prediction and spoke to those involved in making it come true. As if to confirm the cyclical nature of sport, the journey culminates back 'down under' in June 2004 as Woodward takes his men back to the scene of their triumph, in an attempt to re-assert their authority over both the Wallabies and the All Blacks. Chasing the Chariot tells the story of an unprecedented period in English rugby, offering a picture of all levels of the game at a time of huge and dramatic change. The influence and effects of Woodward's planning and preparation have been far reaching, and from inner-city housing estates to public-school playing fields, enthusiastic youngsters to the world's most capped player, Collins discovered that this iconic figure's legacy to the game looks set to run on, long after his departure to take on new challenges.