Nothing focuses an Aussie sportsman more than stuffing the Poms

Martin Johnson was anything but uplifted by Saturday's events at Wembley

Wembley has, of course, staged higher-profile World Cup finals than this one, and if 1966 was the year of "they think it's all over", a sizeable chunk of the nation's sporting buffs might regard 1995 as the year of "they're not entirely aware it ever took place".

As the spectators made their way home down Bobby Moore Way, it was hard to believe that even had England won, Wembley would have marked the occasion with anything more romantic than the Denis Betts Snack Bar. England, however, did not win, neither were they ever likely to after adopting the Alf Ramsey blueprint of playing without any wingers.

In the end, the competition just about succeeded in raising the game's global profile, although it will take a touch more than warming up the crowd of 66,540 with Status Quo as opposed to the Batley Brass Band to spread the gospel across the continents. As Wembley reverberated to "Rocking All Over The World", it was slightly easier to believe that a more appropriate barometer of excitement would have been a mild outbreak of foot-tapping in Widnes and Dewsbury.

There was even the suspicion that the female streaker was all part of the pre-planned choreography. While the young lady in question gave a new meaning to the term Wembley's twin towers, she kept her bottom half firmly under wraps, which suggested she must have been English. Australians have fewer inhibitions - and it showed in the match itself.

English rugby league, while faster, fitter and more ball-skilled than union, is based around the same strategy of minimum risk. England's right wing, Jason Robinson, made about 200 yards on Saturday afternoon, of which all but about three inches were sideways. Australia's castle was largely impenetrable against a strategy which did not appear to recognise that there might be a tradesman's entrance around the side, and it was a bit like watching someone taking a hammer and chisel to Ayers Rock.

If Australia had not made a series of handling errors within sight of England's line, the scoreline would have been more decisive. Australia's opening match loss to England disguised the fact that they always seem to win when it matters, and it is much the same on the cricket field. Nothing focuses an Australian sportsman more than stuffing the Poms.

Australians have two stereotyped perceptions of the English; a natural aversion to soap and water, and an honours degree in whingeing. However, Australia has little to learn from England in the art of bleating, as we witnessed with their semi-final carp at the refereeing. On Saturday, however, all the hairline decisions went the Kangaroos' way, with England, unlike in 1966, looking round in vain for a Russian linesman.

Neither was there any whingeing from the Poms that they more often than not appeared to be playing against 14 men. Andrew Johns presumably won the man of the match award only by a short head from the tracksuited Australian water-carrier, who might have scored less points, but who certainly covered more yards during the 80 minutes.

The big surprise about Australia's first try was that the hand adjudged to have fractionally got there first did not contain a water bottle.

Given the fact that Australia were playing out of season, and that a number of their better players were left at home after defecting to Rupert Murdoch's Super League, England's post-match optimism that there is not much between these two sides seems a little misplaced.

Betts, the captain, said: "We didn't get beaten today, we just ran out of time." How much more time England actually needed he didn't say, but to most observers, we are not so much talking in minutes as years.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'