1999: King John's coronation

By Dylan Cleaver

John Eales said Australia's approach to the tournament was more laid-back than the All Blacks' - and it worked.
Photo / Getty Images
John Eales said Australia's approach to the tournament was more laid-back than the All Blacks' - and it worked. Photo / Getty Images

Tournament star: John Eales
Contrary to popular opinion in the West Island, John Eales wasn't perfect. That's the good news. The bad news for us on the good side of the Tasman is that he got a little too close for comfort to that impossible goal.

We remember the towering lineout presence and the astute leadership, but most of all we remember the last-minute kick at Westpac Stadium in 2000 that felt like a dagger through the heart.

With painful predictability, in those Bledisloe-barren days at least, New Zealand threw away a position of near-impregnability. With painful predictability, it was Eales who did the damage, first at the lineout, then with the boot.

Given that he never suffered through a winter, this was the autumn of Eales' career. The year before was his Indian summer.

France might have stolen the storyline of the 1999 World Cup with the Miracle of Twickenham, but in every other respect this was Australia's tournament.

In his biography Eales remembered sitting in his hotel room watching on television with amusement as the All Blacks landed at Heathrow in a 747 with an image of the frontrow emblazoned on the fuselage: "The mood the New Zealanders seemed to project was that they had come to claim what was rightfully theirs, the Rugby World Cup, and they didn't care who knew it ... Good luck to them."

The Australians' approach was a lot more laid-back. As it turned out, it was also a lot more effective.

Their progress to a second Webb Ellis seemed inexorable from the moment they beat up a passionate Ireland side 23-3 in front of their home support at Lansdowne Rd in their second Pool 5 match.

The semifinal was a tense match that Jannie de Beer sent into extra time with a late penalty, but recalling the experience, Eales said there was no anxiety.

"None of us felt 'gutted'," Eales said. "We just regrouped and returned to the shed to focus for extra time.

"I was weary and my calves were hurting but everyone was in the same boat."

A Stephen Larkham drop goal on the run sealed the victory, but for those of us watching in our lounge rooms at the bottom of the world, it seemed pre-ordained. We'd watched John Eales' teams for the past two years and knew that Australia would win the close encounters of the deferred kind.

The 35-12 final victory against France wasn't so much a contest as a coronation. At the heart of everything they did was King John.

"In 1991 I was just the new kid on the block," Eales would recall. "I was part of a group of three of us who were born in 1970 - Jason Little, Tim Horan and myself. I was at the World Cup just pinching myself, thinking 'how good is this to be a part of'.

"I certainly felt a lot more responsibility in 1999 than I did in 1991, but they were both great fun.

"As captain you do feel more responsibility over a wider amount of things, but I don't think you feel any more pleased when you win."

Eales was an urbane figure, even verging on the bland with his carefully managed post-match utterances, but he was no soft touch.

Eales did everything that was required of the modern lock, he just came with a few bells and whistles as well.

As Bob Templeton would say in 1996: "John Eales is a guy who can run, jump, catch, pass, tackle, kick goals, play a square cut ... and post around 11 seconds for the 100 metres."

See, if he was perfect that time would be closer to 10.8s.

1999 tournament results
Pool A
October 2, at Netherdale, Galashiels: Uruguay 27 (Diego Ormaechea, Alfonso Cardoso, penalty try, Juan Menchaca, tries; Diego Aguirre, Frederico Sciarra con; Aguirre pen) Spain 15 (Andrei Kovalenco 5 pen). Referee: Chris White (England).

October 3, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh: South Africa 46 (Ollie Le Roux, Deon Kayser, Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Robbie Fleck, Andre Venter, Brendan Venter tries; Jannie de Beer 5 con, 2 pen) Scotland 29 (Martin Leslie, Alan Tait tries; Kenny Logan 2 con, 4 pen; Gregor Townsend drop goal). Referee: Colin Hawke (New Zealand).

October 8, at Murrayfield: Scotland 43 (Robbie Russell, Gary Armstrong, Glenn Metcalfe, Leslie, Gordon Simpson, Townsend tries; Logan 5 con, pen) Uruguay 12 (Diego Aguirre 3, Federico Sciarra pen). Referee: Stuart Dickenson (Australia).

October 10, at Murrayfield: South Africa 47 (Andre Vos 2, Anton Leonard, Pieter Muller, penalty try, Bob Skinstad, Werner Swanepoel tries; de Beer 6 con) Spain 3 (Ferran Velazco Querol pen). Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand).

October 15, at Hampden Park, Glasgow: South Africa 39 (Albert van den Bergh 2, Joost van der Westhuizen, Kayser, Fleck tries; de Beer 4 con, 2 pen) Uruguay 3 (Aguirre pen). Referee: Peter Marshall (Australia).

October 16, at Murrayfield: Scotland 48 (Cameron Mather 2, James McLaren, Shaun Longstaff, penalty tries, Duncan Hodge, Cameron Murray tries; Hodge 5 con, pen) Spain 0. Referee: Clayton Thomas (Wales).

Pool B
October 2, at Twickenham: England 67 (Jonny Wilkinson, Richard Hill, Dan Luger, Neil Back, Phil de Granville, Martin Corry, Matt Dawson, Matt Perry tries; Wilkinson 6 con, 5 pen) Italy 7 (Diego Dominguez try; Dominguez con). Referee: Andre Watson.

October 3, at Ashton Gate, Bristol: New Zealand 45 (Jonah Lomu 2, Byron Kelleher, Norm Maxwell, Josh Kronfeld tries; Andrew Mehrtens 4 con, 4 pen) Tonga 9 (Siua Taumalolo 3 pen). Referee: Derek Bevan.

October 9, at Twickenham: New Zealand 30 (Kelleher, Jeff Wilson, Lomu tries; Mehrtens 3 con, 3 pen) England 16 (de Granville try; Wilkinson con, 3 pen). Referee: Peter Marshall (Australia).

October 10, at Welford Road, Leicester: Tonga 28 (Taunaholo Taufahema, 'Isileli Fatani, Sateki Tuipulotu tries; Sateki Tuiulotu 2 con, 2 pen, drop goal) Italy 25 (Alessandro Moscardi try; Dominguez con, 6 pen). Referee: David McHugh (Ireland).

October 14, at McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield: New Zealand 101 (Wilson 3, Glen Osborne 2, Lomu 2, Taine Randell, Tony Brown, Christian Cullen, Mark Hammett, Daryl Gibson, Scott Robertson, Dylan Mika tries; Brown 11 con, 3 pen) Italy 3 (Dominguez pen). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

October 15, at Twickenham: England 101 (Jeremy Guscott 2, Phil Greening 2, Luger 2, Austin Healey 2, Will Greenwood 2, Dawson, Perry, Hill tries; Paul Grayson 12 con, 4 pen) Tonga 10 (Tevita Tiueti try; Tuipulotu con, pen). Referee: Wayne Erickson (Australia).

Pool C
October 1, at Stade de la Mediterranee, Beziers: Fiji 67 (Fero Lasagavibau 2, Setareki Tawake Naivaluwaqa, Jacob Raulini, Viliame Satala, Alifereti Mocelutu Vuivau, Greg Smith, Imanueli Tikomaimakogai, Emori Katalau tries; Waisale Serevi 8 con, 2 pen) Namibia 18 (Mario Jacobs, Johannes Senekal tries; Leandre Van Dyk con, 2 pen). Referee: David McHugh (Ireland).

October 2, at Stade de la Mediterranee, Beziers: France 33 (Emile Ntamack, Stephane Glas, Thomas Castaignede, Olivier Magne tries; Richard Dourthe 2 con, 3 pen) Canada 20 (Morgan Williams 2 tries; Robert Ross con pen; Gareth Rees con, pen). Referee: Brian Campsall (England).

October 8, at Parc Lescure, Bordeaux: France 47 (Ugo Mola 3, Ntamack, Pierre Mignoni, Philippe Bernat-Salles tries; Dourthe 4 con, 3 pen) Namibia 13 (Arthur Samuelson try; Van Dyk con, 2 pen). Referee: Chris White (England).

October 9, at Parc Lescure, Bordeaux: Fiji 38 (Satala 2, Marika Vunibaka, Fero Lasagavibau tries; Nicky Little 3 con, 3 pen, drop goal) Canada 22 (Mike James try; Rees con, 4 pen, drop goal). Referee: Ed Morrison (England).

October 14, at Stade de Toulouse: Canada 72 (Winston Stanley 2, Rod Snow 2, Kyle Nichols 2, Al Charron, Robert Ross, Morgan Williams tries; Rees 9 con, 3 pen) Namibia 11 (Quinton Hough try; Van Dyk 2 pen). Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia).

October 16, at Stade de Toulouse: France 28 (Christophe Juillet, penalty try, Christophe Dominici tries; Dourthe 2 con, 2 pen; Christophe Lamaison pen) Fiji 19 (Alfred Uluinayau try; Little con, 4 pen). Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand).

Pool D
October 1, at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff: Wales 23 (Colin Charvis, Mark Taylor tries; Neil Jenkins 2 con, 3 pen) Argentina 18 (Gonzalo Quesada 6 pen). Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand).

October 3, at Racecourse Ground: Wrexham: Samoa 43 (Brian Lima 2, Steven So'oialo 2, Silao Leaegailesolo tries; Leaegailesolo 3 con, 4 pen) Japan 9 (Keiji Hirose 3 pen). Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia).

October 9, at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff: Wales 64 (Taylor 2, Robert Howley, Scott Gibbs, David Llewellyn, Gareth Thomas, Allan Bateman, Shane Howarth, penalty try tries; Jenkins 8 con, pen) Japan 15 (Patiliai Tuidraki, Daisuke Ohata tries; Hirose con, pen). Referee: Joel Dume (France).

October 10, at Stradey Park, Llanelli: Argentina 32 (Alejandro Allub try; Quesada 8 pen, drop goal) Samoa 16 (Peter Paramour try; Leaegailesolo con, 3 pen). Referee: Wayne Erickson (Australia).

October 14, at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff: Samoa 38 (Stephen Bachop 2, Filiga Falaniko, Patrick Lam, Leaegailesolo tries; Leaegailesolo 5 con, pen) Wales 31 (Gareth Thomas, 2 penalty tries, tries; Jenkins 2 con, 4 pen). Referee: Ed Morrison (England).

October 16, at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff: Argentina 33 (Diego Albanese, Agustin Pichot tries; Felipe Contepomi con; Quesada 7 pen) Japan 12 (Hirose 4 pen). Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia).

Pool E
October 2, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Ireland (Keith Wood 4, Eric Elwood 2, Brian O'Driscoll, Justin Bishop tries; David Humphreys 5 con, pen) United States 8 (Kevin Dalzell try; Dalzell pen). Referee: Joel Dume (France).

October 3, at Ravenhill, Belfast: Australia 57 (Toutai Kefu 3, Joe Roff 2, Rod Kafer, Matthew Burke, Jason Little, Tim Horan tries; Burke 5 con, John Eales con) Romania 9 (Petre Mitu 3 pen). Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand).

October 9, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Romania 27 (Adrian Petrache 2, Gheorghe Solomie 2 tries; Mitu 2 con, pen) United States 25 (Kurt Shuman, Brian Hightower, Dan Lyle tries; Dalzell 2 con, 2 pen). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

October 10, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Australia 23 (Ben Tune, Horan tries; Burke 2 con, 2 pen; Eales pen) Ireland 3 (Humphreys pen). Referee: Clayton Thomas (Wales).

October 14, at Thomond Park, Limerick: Australia 55 (Scott Staniforth 2, Chris Latham, Chris Whitaker, Michael Foley, Burke, Stephen Larkham, Tiaan Straaus tries; Burke 5 con, pen; Roff con) United States 19 (Juan Grobler try; Dalzell con, 4 pen). Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa).

October 15, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Ireland 44 (Conor O'Shea 2, Andrew Ward. Tom Tierney, Dion O'Cuinneagain tries; Elwood 5 con, 2 pen; O'Driscoll drop goals) Romania 14 (Daniel Sauan try; Mitu 3 pen). Referee: Brian Campsell (England).

Quarter-final play-offs
October 20, at Twickenham: England 45 (Luger, Back, Nick Beal, Greening, tries; Wilkinson con, 7 pen; Dawson con) Fiji 24 (Satala, Meli Nakuta, Tikomaimakogai tries; Little 3 con; Sereva pen). Referee: Clayton Thomas (Wales).

October 20, at Murrayfield: Scotland 35 (Murray, Martin, penalty try, Leslie tries; Logan con, 5 pen; Townsend drop goal) Samoa 20 (Lima, Semo Sititi tries; Leaegailesolo 2 con, 2 pen). Referee: David McHugh (Ireland).

October 20, at Stade Felix Bollaert, Lens: Argentina 28 (Albanese try; Quesada con, 7 pen) Ireland 24 (Humphreys 7 pen, drop goal). Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia).

October 23, at Millennium Stadium: Australia 24 (George Gregan 2, Tune tries; Burke 3 con, pen) Wales 9 (Jenkins 3 pen). Referee: Colin Hawke (New Zealand).

October 24, at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, Paris: South Africa 44 (van der Westhuizen, Pieter Rossouw tries; de Beer 2 con, 5 pen, 5 drop goals) England 21 (Grayson 6 pen; Wilkinson pen). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

October 24, at Murrayfield: New Zealand 30 (Tana Umaga 2, Wilson, Lomu tries; Mehrtens 2 con, 2 pen) Scotland 18 (Murray, Budge Pountney tries; Logan con, pen; Townsend drop goal). Referee: Ed Morrison (England).

October 24, at Lansdowne Rd: France 47 (Xavier Garbajosa 2, Bernat-Salles 2, Ntamack tries; Lamaison 5 con, 4 pen) Argentina 26 (Pichot, Arbizu tries; Quesada 2 con, 3 pen; Felipe Contepomi pen). Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales).

October 30, at Twickenham: Australia 27 (Burke 8 pen, Larkham drop goal) South Africa 21 (de Beer 6 pen, drop goal) after extra time. Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales).

October 31, at Twickenham: France 43 (Lamaison, Dominici, Dourthe, Bernat-Salles tries; Lamaison 4 con, 3 pen, 2 drop goals) New Zealand 31 (Lomu 2, Wilson, tries; Mehrtens 2 con, 4 pen). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

Third place play-offs
November 4, at Millennium Stadium: South Africa 22 (Breyton Paulse try; Henry Honiball con, 3 pen; Percy Montgomery 2 drop goals) New Zealand 18 (Mehrtens 6 pen). Referee: Peter Marshall (Australia).

November 6, at Millennium Stadium: Australia 35 (Tune, Owen Finegan tries; Burke 2 con, 7 pen) France 12 (Lamaison 4 pen).

Referee: Andrew Watson (South Africa).

Legends of the Cup: Part two

Video: Great World Cup moments - 1999

Setting the scene: Big shift when the game turned pro

Tournament action: Sacre bleu! France demolish All Blacks

How we won it: Australia - 'Trust gave us belief'

All Black memories: 'In reality we were a team of individuals'

Aussies didn't need a curfew

Tournament star: John Eales - King John's coronation

- NZ Herald

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